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Canisius men’s soccer opens 2018 campaign at Robert Morris

CANISIUS COLLEGE ATHLETICS

Grattarola_Alex action vs CCSU 9-10-18
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Canisius men's soccer team opens the 2018 season Friday when it travels to non-conference foe Robert Morris for a 4 p.m. contest at the North Athletic Complex in Moon Township, Pa.

Scouting Canisius
• Heading into its eighth season under head coach Dermot McGrane, Canisius welcomes back seven starters and 20 letterwinners from its 2017 squad that established a school record for wins as it finished with a 12-4-4 overall mark and a 5-1-4 league record.
• Offensively, the Griffs welcome back six of its seven double-digit scorers from a season ago, including each of its top-five point producers.
• All-MAAC First Team and MAAC All-Rookie Team selection Filippo Tamburini returns after a stellar freshman campaign that saw him pace the MAAC in scoring with 26 points thanks to a league-high 11 goals and four assists.
• Junior forward Troy Brady is back after garnering All-MAAC First Team accolades last season following a breakout campaign that saw the Grand Island, N.Y., native place second on the team in both goals (9) and points (20).
• Senior Alex Grattarola, the reigning MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, will anchor the back end for Canisius after ranking third on the team in both points (16) and goals (7) in 2017. Like Brady, Grattarola was tied for the team lead with three game-winning goals.
• Senior Melvin Blair will again provide scoring depth from the midfield after finishing fourth on the team in scoring with 14 points (4g, 6a). The All-MAAC First-Team product ranked tied for fifth in the MAAC in assists and was fourth among all league players in shots per game (2.9).

Men's Soccer Named MAAC Preseason Favorites; Four Tabbed Preseason All-MAAC
• Canisius was picked to capture the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season title as the results of the league's preseason poll were announced on Aug. 14.
• In voting conducted by the MAAC's 11 head coaches, the Golden Griffins received six first-place votes and 102 points, one ahead of second-place Rider (101). Defending tournament champion Fairfield was third with 95 points, followed by Quinnipiac (82), Manhattan (77) and Monmouth (75). Marist (64), Iona (53), Siena (37), Saint Peter's (23) and Niagara (17) rounded out the poll. 
• In addition to the predicted order of finish, the league also announced its Preseason All-MAAC squads. Canisius had a league-high four student-athletes – seniors Melvin Blair and Alex Grattarola, junior Troy Brady and sophomore Filippo Tamburini - named to the 11-member list.
 
Scouting Robert Morris
• Beginning its 22nd season under the guidance of veteran head coach Bill Denniston, Robert Morris was picked to finish sixth in the Northeast Conference preseason poll after completing the 2017 season with a 4-11-3 overall mark and a 3-3-1 league ledger.
• Senior forward Zac Sherman returns as the Colonials leading scorer after recording three goals and one assist last season as RMU looks to replace graduated All-NEC selections Bayley Winkel (10g, 2a) and Keane McIvor (2g, 8a).
• Senior goalkeeper Winter Fondi has started the last 32 matches between the posts for the Colonials. In 2017, Fondi posted a 1.75 goals against average and a .744 save percentage in 18 appearances.
 
Canisius-Robert Morris Series Notes
• Friday's contest serves as the 19th meeting between Canisius and Robert Morris.
• The Colonials hold a 10-5-3 lead in the all-time series, but the Griffs are undefeated in the last four matchups (3-0-1).
• Canisius won last season's contest at the Demske Sports Complex, recording a 4-3 overtime victory in a back-and-forth game that saw Robert Morris jump out to a 3-0 lead, only to have the Griffs battle back to tie the contest before Brady secured victory for the Blue and Gold just 28 seconds into the first extra session.
 
Up Next
• Canisius continues its season-opening road swing Monday with an 11 a.m. matinee at Northern Kentucky.
• The game will air live on ESPN+.