POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — The Marist Men’s Soccer Team was hoping for a hero’s welcome on their home opener, coming off an upset over nationally ranked University of the Pacific.
They did not get it.
Saturday night’s 2-0 defeat to the University of Rhode Island was even more of a disappointment considering the Red Foxes played an impressive first half.
The opening 10 minutes were marked by high pressure from Marist but failure to deliver through-balls while in possession. Freshman Defender Christian Curti gave the Marist faithful a scare as he slipped while handling the ball atop his own 18-yard box. The mistake gifted URI a chance but Curti was bailed out by a fellow defender.
Just a few minutes later, Allen Gavilanes showed off the pace and skill that launched him into stardom last year. The sophomore attacker blew past the Rams’ defense and goalkeeper but was challenged as he tried to shoot into the empty net, skewing his attempt just wide.
Gavilanes’ efforts pushed his team into gear. For the next 15 minutes, the Red Foxes generated chances and tested the URI keeper often. Then, against the run of play, the Rams got on the board off a low Stavros Zarokostas shot from the top of the box.
Though they responded well to conceding, Head Coach Matt Viggiano’s men went into the locker room down 1-0. Viggiano said he loved how his team played in the first half. “We were playing at a good tempo, we were forcing them into turnovers,” he said, praising the brand of soccer his men put on the field.
Things changed after the halftime break.
Viggiano described his team as “frustrated” and “individualistic” in the second half, exemplified by seven second-half fouls as opposed to just one in the first half.
The low point of the night for the Red Foxes occurred when Juan Parada was sent off with a second yellow card after an apparent incident of spitting on a URI player.
After URI bagged their second goal courtesy of Chae Brangman, Marist began to play their way back into the game, bossing possession and creating chances. Junior Marcus Ginman nearly scored twice within just a couple of minutes, as the danger mounted in front of the Rams’ net.
Marist was lucky to not have gone down by three, as Dominik Richter smacked an empty net shot off the crossbar from about five yards away. The home crowd gave Richter an enthusiastic standing ovation as he was subsequently.
The tale of two halves culminated in chippy, scrappy soccer towards the end of the game. The final scrambles in front of goal around the 90th minute were fruitless, and the Red Foxes slid to 1-3 on the season.
“They’re both looking for their first goal and I think sometimes the monkey starts to get bigger and bigger on their back,” Viggiano said of Gavilanes and Cameron Harr playing up top together. The veteran head coach going into his 12th year stated that, once they get their first goals, “The sky is the limit.”
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated that Juan Parada spit on the referee. This is wrong and Center Field apologizes for the mistake. Juan Parada spit on a URI player and received his second yellow card.