It was a tale of two halves in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament at Tenney Stadium on Wednesday night between the Marist Red Foxes and UMBC Retrievers. The first half was a back-and-forth battle between what looked like two equally matched opponents. The second was a one-sided slugfest that brought Marist’s season to a bitter end.
The Red Foxes jumped on top in the first half thanks to a pair of quick goals by Evan Gagne and Jake Weinman. After five minutes of scoreless back-and-forth play from the two teams, UMBC answered thanks to a sidearm rocket by Steven Zichelli that put the score at 2-1 in Marist’s favor with 6:49 to go in the first quarter.
The packed Tenney Stadium, likely a record attendance, was treated to a phenomenally competitive show for the rest of the half. The highlight of the exchange came with 8 minutes left in the first half with Marist up 5-4. At midfield, a UMBC player lost possession of the ball and looked down to scoop up the loose ball when Marist defenseman Sam Ahlgrim lowered his shoulder into the UMBC player.
Both the UMBC player and the ball went flying downfield. Marist scooped it up and got it in the stick of Jamison Embry who immediately found the back of the net for his second goal and put Marist up by two goals. The crowd erupted. What seemed like a moment that could spring a major run for the Red Foxes turned out to be the beginning of the end.
Marist would not score for the next thirty minutes of game time. In fact, they did not put more than two shots on goal the entire third quarter. During that period, UMBC went on a scoring streak thanks in part to three more goals for Zichelli. When the dust settled at the end of the third quarter, the score was 9-6 with UMBC firmly in control.
The Retrievers then started the fourth the same way they finished the third. Their recipe was perfectly exhibited on this possession. UMBC cycled the ball around and through the Marist defense until there were just seven seconds left on the 80 second shot clock. Then Billy Nolan fired a laser into the top left hand corner and put the Retrievers up by four goals.
The deflated crowd grew restless, and students started making their way to the exits with when UMBC extended their lead to five with around eight minutes left in the game. They executed the same strategy as on the previous goals.
Marist fans headed towards the exits all stopped though after Weinman heroically found the back of the net twice in just a 40 second gap. All of the sudden, it was a three goal game and the Red Foxes had the momentum.
Fans resumed their exodus a minute later, though, when Brett McIntyre scored his second goal of the night. The UMBC bench and fans were ecstatic. Marist fans and players hung their heads. With five minutes left, the game was all but decided.
UMBC would add two more garbage time goals to the final score which was 14-8. It was a dismal finish for what was one of the better seasons at Marist this year. The weather was perfect and the crowd was ready, and Marist came out ready to put on the show. After the first half, it looked like everyone in attendance was in for one.
Instead, it ended in a blowout and in the ultimate anti-climatic fashion for Marist. When the seniors look back on this season though, it will be the 15-14 thriller over Quinnipiac in the MAAC Championship that will be remembered. This one will likely just fade off into the distance.
Edited by Dan Statile
Photography by Allison Smith