Down a man, and without their star forward, the Marist Men’s Soccer team had to fight for a crucial in-conference game against Iona Wednesday evening. Sophomore Allen Gavilanes having been suspended for Wednesday night’s bout after a red card in their last match against Rider, the Red Foxes had to muster offense without him.
Marist began the game on the front foot, and freshman Skylar Conway epitomized that in the 17th minute. After skillful movement in the center of the field, Conway was able to push the ball out wide to David Nkansah-Siriboe who one-timed it back across the 6-yard box. Conway received the ball directly at his feet and then blasted it into the top of the net for the first goal of his college career.
“It was the best he’s played so far this year,” Head Coach Matt Viggiano said of his freshman midfielder’s performance. “We’ve asked a lot of him and we expect a lot of him because he’s a talented player. He was great tonight.”
Former Red Fox turned Iona starting goalkeeper, Giuliano Santucci, was beaten again after 21 minutes of play. As a corner kick trickled out to the top of the 18-yard box, Conway hit a half-volley towards goal which was ultimately deflected into the bottom corner by senior defender Beau Hornberger.
The remainder of the first half was not as enjoyable for the Red Foxes. Just two minutes after the second goal, Iona notched one for themselves thanks to an Ali Dawha header from a quality free kick delivery.
The Gaels subsequently had two penalty call shouts before the halftime whistle, but neither were deemed worthy by the referee. In the 40th minute, however, a red card was issued to Marist senior, Alex Reis.
“Someone made a selfish decision … and his teammates picked him up tonight,” Viggiano said. After two red cards in as many games, the 12-year head coach said, “It’s about being selfless, not selfish.”
The word “nearly” hallmarked the final 45 minutes. A combined 16 second half shots were taken between the two sides, but not one of them into the back of the net; and not for the lack of trying. The Gaels poured everything they had at Ryan Sinnott’s net, but the junior goalkeeper came up with three dazzling saves after halftime. The Marist defense also shone bright, blocking multiple Iona attempts and holding on to the slim lead for dear life.
Conway heated up again in the last few minutes, trying to put together a play to kill the game off. That goal did not come, but the victory did, as well as validation for a head coach superstition.
For the first time this year, Marist wore red socks with their all white uniforms. When asked about the switch, Viggiano said, “Sometimes you need to shake things up a little bit. We changed up the warmup, we changed up a lot of things today.”
He called this game “A win that hopefully we can build on.” The Red Foxes face Siena away on Saturday, where they will be looking to improve to 2-1-0 in the MAAC.