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Griffs In Depth - Alana Rossi the record setter


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Canisius junior goalkeeper Alana Rossi is admittedly very superstitious. Part of her pregame routine includes a text from her mother, Gina. The pregame text message is generally the same encouraging note, but never includes one word - shutout.
"I tell people all the time, don't mention the word shutout to me before a game, or even during a game," the Fonthill, Ontario native said. "I don't even want to think about a shutout until the final whistle blows and the game is over."
It is ironic that Rossi does not like talking about shutouts, especially since she set the Canisius women's soccer program record with her 17th career clean sheet Sept. 22, when the Golden Griffins defeated Manhattan 1-0 at home. That shutout victory allowed Rossi to pass former Canisius keeper Debbie Besant on the program's career shutout record list. Besant was credited with 16 shutouts in her career from 1986-89.
"It didn't really hit me that I had set the [shutout] record until I was walking into the locker room after the game," Rossi said. "As a goalkeeper, you never go into a game expecting to keep the other team without a goal. Obviously, that's why I am in there, to keep the other team from scoring, but defense in soccer is such a team effort. And after the way we played at Manhattan last year [a 5-0 road loss for the Griffs], setting the record against them was a little nicer."
Entering Saturday's home match against Iona, Rossi is tied for second in the conference with three shutouts to her credit this season, and her 1.01 goals against average is second-best in the league. She has started all nine games for the Blue and Gold to this point and has been in the goal for 815:17 played this season, but she's only been forced to make 27 saves, which is third-lowest in the 11-team conference.
Rossi credits her teammates, specifically senior defenders Emily Czechowski and Melanie Linsmair, as keys to her ability to record shutouts and see a low number of shots. Last season, with Czechowski and Linsmair patrolling the backline for the Griffs, Canisius set a program record for shutouts in a season (9) while allowing just 1.11 goals per game against.
"I have had people come up to me and say 'you have a bunch of shutouts, but you don't have many saves' and I am totally okay with that," she said. "When you have a defense like we have, which has two senior defenders that have played together for four years, it takes so much pressure off me in goal. Having Emily and Melanie in front of me and working with me, it just gives me an extra boost of confidence."
Canisius head coach Todd Clark found Rossi late in the recruiting process in the winter of 2016, but he's certainly happy that he came across her. Rossi had committed to another program, but after a coaching change at that school, Rossi re-opened her college recruitment, and Clark was able to bring her to Canisius as part of his second recruiting class with the program.
"We brought Alana here with the confidence that she was a good goalkeeper, and I thought she had the desire and ability to make herself a better player," Clark said. "As the years have gone on, she has played with so much more confidence, and her time working with [assistant coach] Gabrielle Wilson has really proved to be a great step forward for her on the field."
Wilson, who works directly with the Canisius keepers, played 20 career games in goal at long-time rival Niagara from 2008-11. Her experience on the field, and her professional experience as an accountant, provide Rossi with insight both on and off the field.
"Gabrielle played in this league, so she understands what I'm going through, but she is also an accountant, and that's what I am studying to be, so we have a lot to discuss," Rossi said. "She provides me with a different prospective on things, and I think that's been a great bonus to me as a goalkeeper and as a student-athlete."
Rossi and her Canisius teammates return home to the Demske Sports Complex on Saturday, where the Blue and Gold holds a perfect 3-0-0 mark this season after the 1-0 shutout win over Manhattan last Saturday. Of Rossi's 17 career shutouts, 12 have come on the team's home field.
"We are a 'defend-first' kind of team, but for her to collect 17 shutouts in 42 games, that's an impressive stat," Clark said. "Alana was a kid we bet on in the recruiting process. We thought she had the potential to come in here and be a good goalkeeper and she's worked so hard to make herself that much better. I am certainly happy we brought her in here because she's an important piece to our foundation as we transition this program forward."

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