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Canisius, Niagara engage in Battle of the Bridge on the pitch

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

The Battle of the Bridge is serious business. The season-long, cross-sports competition between Canisius College and Niagara University for the Canal Cup is heated, and the Purple Eagles have a chip on their shoulders (wings?) from Canisius’ dominion four of the last five years.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, men’s soccer takes center stage in the battle for the Canal Cup as Canisius and Niagara square-off under the lights at Demske Sports Complex. The Purple Eagles have sparkled this year, as their unblemished 7-0-4 record ranks as the best overall in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. A scoreless tie against resilient Rider was a bit of a setback for Chase Brooks’ squad—denying them the top spot in the MAAC—and Niagara could be vulnerable against a Canisius squad desperate to steer its season back on track.

Dermot McGrane’s Griffins dropped a shocker of a match against Rider before falling to Loyola, leaving Canisius 0-2 in MAAC play. The inconsistent Canisius defense could have fits marking Niagara’s fearsome striking partnership in 6’6 Callum Willmott (sophomore, No. 15) and Bryan Da Cruz (senior, No. 8). Freshman Julian Ekeze joins the aforementioned attackers in earning plaudits from Top Drawer Soccer, ranking 98th out of the top 100 freshmen in all of Division I.

After posting a staggering amount of quality chances and goals in non-conference play, the scoring touch has eluded Canisius in conference play. Withdrawn striker Gavin Falconer, who not long ago was tied for the national lead in goals, has seen his shots caroming off defenders, skying over the crossbar or flashing directly at the opposing keeper in recent matches. The senior isn’t shy about shooting, however, and Niagara keeper Brett Petricek (.79 GAA) must be mindful of Falconer’s howitzer.

There’s only been one other contest in the Battle of the Bridge so far this year, as Niagara’s women’s volleyball team downed Canisius three sets to one just five days ago. Keep track of the season series here.

TAGGED: battle of the bridge, canal cup, canisius college, chase brooks, dermot mcgrane, maac soccer, men's soccer, niagara university

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