A sunny afternoon was the perfect day for Marist’s Senior Day as they faced-off against Fairfield at Tenney Stadium. Fairfield is the defending MAAC champ and won as a third seed in 2018. Yet, Marist came out on top last season in the matchup, beating Fairfield 11-10. The history of the two teams made for an exciting game, which ended with Fairfield taking the thrilling victory, 10-9.
The game began with a draw win for the Red Foxes, but the Red Foxes nor the Stags came up with anything in the first four minutes. After several fouls, Marist was able to put one in the cage by junior attack, Samantha Mehalick. The Stags soon tied it up with a goal by senior midfielder, Taylor Mitchell. However, the Red Foxes quickly answered with a goal by junior midfielder, Jessica Lasaponara.
The Red Foxes and the Stags were both playing aggressively, which involved a great amount of fouls and yellow cards. The Stags later added another goal to tie it, 2-2, by sophomore midfielder, Kelly Horning. Not only did the offense on both teams pull through, the defense and goalies were stepping up with incredible saves.
After a nine minute scoring lull, Marist executed the around-the-wheel play. Sophomore attack, Kelly George, found Mehalick and she caged it. However, the Stags answered with another goal from Mitchell, making the score tied once again, 3-3, with ten minutes left in the first half.
In the last ten minutes of the first half, both teams were giving it their all to get the lead. Fairfield tagged on another goal by midfield graduate student, Brooke Gallagher. The remaining minutes of the half consisted of several possessions and shots by both teams, however, no goals were scored for the Red Foxes. The Stags had a stinging goal with twenty seconds left by senior attack, Kathleen Hulseman. Fairfield had taken the lead 5-3, at the end of the first half.
The second half started with an immediate goal off the draw for Fairfield. Junior midfielder, Meaghan Graham found sophomore midfielder, Diana Devita, and she fired it in. Not long after, the pair executed another goal. This gave the Stags a four point lead, three minutes into the second half. Fairfield was pulling away on the Tenney turf.
Minutes later, Marist racked up three goals from George, Mehalick, and senior midfielder, Hailey Wagner. This was Mehalick’s third goal of the day, making this the first hat trick of the game. This brought the score to 7-6 with Fairfield leading and 20 minutes left to play.
The game continued with more strategic plays, aggressive defense and high energy. Fairfield saw two more goals from Hulseman and Horning. This was Hulseman’s hundredth career goal. However, Lasaponara and Wagner were not going down without a fight on Senior Day. They both caged a goal for the Red Foxes. Both teams were working hard to keep the game close, in which made for a nail-biting 9-8 game, with Marist trailing by one.
In the final ten minutes of the game, Marist and Fairfield tried to maintain composure in order to pull out the win in a smart way. However, minor mistakes were costing both teams the ball, one after the other. Fairfield saw another goal from Horning, making this the second hat trick of the game. With three minutes left, Marist was down by two and the Red Foxes took a timeout to figure out how to execute the win.
With two minutes left, George tallied another crucial goal for the Red Foxes, narrowing Fairfield’s lead to one goal. Marist then called a timeout to make a game plan, only working with twenty eight seconds left in the game. The Red Foxes worked hard to get the ball in the cage, however, there was simply not enough time. The Fairfield Stags took the MAAC win, 10-9.
“This game was tight from the first draw,” Marist Head Coach Jess Wilkinson said. “We were looking for us to take the game away, but Fairfield is a very good team. We match up really well against them and we honestly hope to see them again.”
Looking forward, Wilkinson recognizes some improvements that could be made. “We found our rhythm not soon enough this game. Some things that really hurt us were the ground ball stats, turnovers stat, and our 8 meters shots,” she said. “ If we are going to lose by one, we will take any opportunity possible.”
“I am really proud of the seniors and what they have done for this program these last four years. A lot of them showed that they can be leaders on the field as well today,” Wilkinson said. Marist goes onto face Niagara University this Wednesday, April 10, seeking to add another conference win. “We still have a lot of games left and I am really excited to keep coaching them through this year.”
Edited by Lily Caffrey-Levine