Closing Out When It Counts: Marist Tops Siena to Clinch Playoff Spot

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y — Win and in. Coming into Wednesday night, the Marist Women’s Soccer team sat on 15 points in the MAAC. With visiting Siena College Saints nipping at their heels on 14 points, the Red Foxes were looking to clinch a playoff spot and control their own destiny.

The first half did not do Marist any favors. Five of the eight total shots in the half went towards sophomore goalkeeper Abigail Renaud’s net, and the Red Foxes were never able to grab a hold on the game.

They spent a majority of the opening 45 minutes with 10 players behind the ball absorbing pressure and then countering. Both teams lacked potency in the attack, thanks to impressive displays from each squad’s back line.

With a huge opportunity on the line, the second half wore on with chances for both teams evenly dispersed. The sides were even with 11 shots each when all was said and done, 14 of the total 22 coming in the second half.

In the 84th minute, the game and the postseason future of the Red Foxes were decided.

As players and coaching staff on the sideline jumped and cheered, urging their team on, overtime seemed imminent. At least until sophomore Katey Samarro answered the call. Out of practically nothing, her driven chip shot from 25 yards out found its way over the keeper and under the crossbar.

From that point on, Marist held on to control of the game and added some insurance with a header from sophomore Nicole Sasso just two minutes later.

“One of the biggest factors in this game in terms of energy and momentum was our bench. They did a fantastic job of really bringing the energy, bringing the support, and in tough moments during the game finding the energy back for the players on the field,” said first year head coach Leigh Howard.

Her players fought through almost 90 minutes of scoreless soccer and were still able to find a way.

“We’re so excited,” Sasso said about getting to the MAAC playoffs again. “And it’s the first time we’ve beaten Siena in over eight years so we’re pretty pumped about that.”

Sasso discussed work ethic being a major factor in the Red Foxes ability to score after multiple missed opportunities. The mental and physical endurance it takes to pull out a win at the end is a characteristic of this team that will only help come playoff time.

Coach Howard spoke about her team sticking to their identity through the match and the season, and that is how they are able to get results. “We tell them all along that if we continue to play the way in which we’ve done all year chances will come, and once they come you really have to take advantage.” When it counted most the Red Foxes did just that, closing out the game in stylish fashion.

With two regular season games left to play, there is still plenty to play for. Teams are in the hunt for a higher seed, and Marist will need to do the same to secure a first round bye and home game. Quinnipiac and Fairfield stand in their way before the regular season wraps up.

Edited by Will Bjarnar

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