After a long building process, the men's soccer program at Canisius College is at the threshold of its first postseason appearance.
The Griffs are 3-1-1 and in second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with two games remaining.
A home win Saturday against Fairfield (3-6-3, 2-1-1) or Sunday against Iona (1-12-1, 1-2-1) would assure Canisius of a spot in the upcoming MAAC tournament in Baltimore. The top four teams advance to the conference championships with the winner receiving an NCAA play-in game.
"Our goal has been to make the playoffs," said coach Greg Reeds, whose team is 4-9-1. "We are not there yet, but I have been very encouraged with our performance. Every day, I tell them to keep working and good things will happen. Just don't let up."
Canisius, which has had just three winning seasons in 29 years, didn't look like playoff material after failing to score in its first four games en route to a 1-7 start.
But the Griffs won at St. Peter's (1-0) followed by the biggest win in school history, 1-0 decision over Loyola, which had won 62 of its previous 64 MAAC games. A 0-0 tie with Niagara and a 5-2 win over Siena put Canisius firmly into contention.
"Rather than jumping ship, we asked everyone to pick up a pail and start bailing water," Reeds said of the poor start. "They all chipped in, assumed a role and became an easy team to coach."
Defense has been the story. The Griffs have allowed just four goals and recorded three straight shutouts over the recent six-game stretch.
Sophomore John Ford has been the man in goal for Canisius while senior Tony Burke (Olean), the school's leader is career goals (32), paces the offense with five goals and two assists for 12 points.
Prizner to receive honor
Canisius tight end John Prizner will be honored by the Burger King Corp. as its Division I-AA college football scholar-athlete of the week during halftime of Saturday's homecoming game against St. John's. Burger King will donate $10,000 to the school's general scholarship fund in Prizner's name.
A 1995 MAAC All-Academic selection, Prizner is a Dean's List student with a 3.498 grade point average. He also is a member of Athletes in Actions, volunteers at a soup kitchen, coaches youth football, organizes player visits to children with cancer and works as a volunteer reporter at a Pittsburgh radio station.
Niagara freshman Lynda Hughes, who scored a MAAC season-high five goals in a 5-1 victory over Siena, was named the conference's player of the week. She is second in the league in scoring with 10 goals and 20 points.
St. Bonaventure's Cari Kruppner has been named Atlantic 10 rookie of the week for the second time this season. Kruppner netted her first hat trick in the Bonnies' 6-1 rout of Youngstown State. She is tied for the team lead in scoring (16 points) and is second in goals (seven).
Hurd's the word on defense
Canisius cornerback Shane Hurd earned his second MAAC and ECAC defensive player of the week honor this year after a record-setting performance against Fairfield last Saturday.
Hurd intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown, his second this season, in the Griffs' 21-0 victory. The 90-yard return was the longest in school history. He also tied a school mark by breaking up five passes.
Hurd leads all Division I-AA schools with seven interceptions -- one shy of the school record -- and his 198 total return yards rank No. 1 in all of college football.
Roll call for Dinkins
Buffalo State tailback Perez Dinkins made the ECAC honor roll this week after his 184-yard performance in a 21-7 loss at Southern Connecticut State last Saturday.
The Bengals lost votes in the ECAC/Upstate New York Poll, but remain tied for No. 1 with Ithaca.
Bradley makes collegiate debut
Former Silver Creek High star Dan Bradley saw his first action as the No. 2 quarterback for Wake Forest in a 52-0 loss to Maryland last Saturday. The 6-6, 228-pound redshirt freshman completed 2 of 4 passes for 20 yards.