Poughkeepsie, NY— Usually the more north you get in the world, the colder the weather. Maybe Tenney Stadium didn’t get the message. It was a grueling 88-degree day at Marist College, as the Red Foxes looked to snap a three-game losing against the Iona Gaels; their first MAAC conference match of the season.
Today’s match was a special day for the entire team, as they celebrated Pride Day. In support of this celebration, the players wore tie-dye shirts during pre-game practice instead of their typical gear. The coaches, including Marist’s Leigh Howard, also wore black Nike t-shirts with pride flags on top of the swoosh logo. “Being able to represent a cause like pride and support inclusion, tolerance, acceptance and love is a super important concept to our team,” Howard exclaimed about the passion shown from the crowd. “Anytime we can represent something through our game and to represent Marist at the same time is a really powerful thing.”
Coming into today’s match, Howard made four changes to the side including introducing a new goalkeeper, Natalie Kelchner, into the mix. Kelchner was one of the stars for the Red Foxes, as she made seven solid saves on the day. Co-captain Nicole Sasso was also unavailable for this match. “[Sasso] will be back for next game,” according to defender and co-captain Bianca Furci, “Not having her and a few others is huge, but I think other people have stepped up in their positions to try and bring the same effort and intensity but not replace.”
The energy from the bench and the crowd was high from the get-go, as the first big chance came in the fifth minute when redshirt sophomore Kristen Prevosto laid off striker Brooke Cergol, but Iona’s keeper Emma Havrilla made a fantastic lunging save to keep the score at 0-0.
It was a back-and-forth half, as both teams crated a few good opportunities for themselves. The best one of which came on the last corner of the half, where Marist forward Haley Guertin got her head into a miss-timed her punch, but it would go over the bar as the whistle then blew for halftime. The two goalkeepers were the stand out performers, combining for four saves each. After the first half, it appeared that Marist was going to get the edge in this match, as they had six corners to their name while keeping the Gaels from having any of their own.
The Red Foxes were dangerous from set pieces, as in the 63rd minute the left foot of Alexa Svensson struck the ball from a corner kick and was met by the head of in-form Prevosto where she put the ball in the back of the net. This added another headed goal to her tally, for her third goal of the season.
After holding on to a clean sheet for the first 80 minutes of the game, Samantha Hogan of Iona, who was the main driving force for the Gaels for the entirety of the match, won a penalty after a foul by assister Svensson. Despite Kelchner diving the right way, it was put away by Iona’s Amber Crispin to tie the match.
After a thrilling 90 minutes, the match headed to overtime; Marist’s first since October 20th when they drew with Quinnipiac 1-1.
The weather looked to be a factor for both teams, as limited chances were created and a plethora of yellow cards were being handed out. The two sides looked drained playing the extra twenty minutes and were lunging into needless challenges. The match would end in a 1-1 draw.
Despite dropping two points, Coach Howard believes that there were many positives to take out of the match. “At the end of the day, we saw it as another opportunity to learn more about ourselves as a team. You always want to get the three points, but being able to learn about preserving a lead and making sure that we weather the storm that comes after scoring a goal is really important for the rest of the season.”
Marist’s next match will be away from home on September 28th, against reigning MAAC champions Monmouth University.
Edited by David Bieber, Photo Credited To Mike Cahill