POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — It’s what every competitive student-athlete hopes for – a high-stakes senior night with lots to play for. That was precisely the case on Saturday, as Marist Men’s Soccer battled Quinnipiac for massive playoff implications.
With a win, Marist would have clinched a playoff spot with one regular season match to play, while Quinnipiac was fighting to lock up a first-round bye in the MAAC tournament.
All five of Marist’s seniors started the game, including the first of Enzo Petrocelli’s career. Head coach Matt Viggiano insisted that his team went into this like any other game, but he wished he had seen some more from them. “You want to honor your seniors with a win, so you’d hope that there’s a little more urgency,” he said. But Viggiano went on to explain that the main focus was to get the win and strengthen their positioning for the playoffs.
After a relatively even first half, nothing could separate the two teams. In the 53rd minute, Quinnipiac senior Rashawn Dally found himself on the end of a perfect cross from junior Romain Danielleou. Dally opened his body with no defenders in front of him and smashed it home from the center of the box to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead.
The game picked up after the Bobcats moved forward. In the 58th minute, Marist won a penalty kick and junior Samad Bounthong was preparing to take it. Amidst some confrontation in the box, Bounthong and Quinnipiac goalkeeper Jared Mazzola began verbally jarring at one another. The Marist midfielder’s attempt was then stopped by Mazzola who directed his celebrations right back at him.
The stakes of the game were palpable, and the Red Foxes were close to a comeback result with mounting pressure in the Quinnipiac end. Mazzola stopped all nine Marist shots on goal by the end of the night, and the Red Foxes suffered just their second conference loss of the season by a lone goal.
A night of missed opportunities, on the field and in the standings. However, Viggiano’s team still controls their own destiny and have all to play for on Wednesday against Niagara.
“They’ve got to understand the gravity of the situation, which I think they do. We win and I think we’re the three seed,” the veteran coach said. With all of Saturday’s MAAC results taken into account, the Red Foxes are in position to take the third seed from Iona who has completed their regular season schedule.
Saint Peter’s, Manhattan and Rider are all right behind them, but cannot catch up so long as Marist captures all three points at home on Wednesday at 4:00.
Edited by Will Bjarnar