Friday, February 27, 2009

Final Weekend Important for Women, too

There's at least one major possibility at stake for a conference women's team and, as is happening with the final men's weekend of play the scenario is also happening in Western New York.

The Canisius women are currently 13-4 in conference play, a game ahead of 12-5 Fairfield.

The Golden Griffins can close out second place in the MAAC by winning its final regular-season contest when it hosts geographic rival Niagara (1-16 in the league, 2-26 overall) Saturday at 2 p.m.

A second-place finish would mean an automatic berth in the WNIT. That nationaly post-season event expanded to a 48-team field two years ago to give every conference an automatic berth. That berth goes to the best team left in a conference, based on regular-season standings, after the NCAA makes its selections.

Marist, with its 15-2 conference record, has already clinched the regular-season title.

Whether Canisius captures the MAAC's automatic berth to the NCAA's by winning its post-season tournament, or winds up in the WNIT it would be the program's second trip to a national post-season event ever. The 2004-05 team made it to the NCAA's.

The current team's 21-victory total (currently 21-7) matches the 2004-05 team for the most victories in a season on the Division I level.

Whatever success Canisius has down the stretch, though, won't allow it to approach the program's all-time record for victories. The 1982-83 team, a Division II program then, finished 28-5 that season.

That team's roster included current Siena coach Gina Castelli, a freshman that season; and Kara Haun, then a junior, who coached five seasons at Canisius under her married name (Kara Rehbbaum) in the early-to-mid 1990s.

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