A heartbreaking defeat and a blown opportunity might cripple many teams. It could be the turning point to a downward trajectory for the season.
Not for this team.
The Red Foxes fell 2-1 in double overtime to #18 University of New Hampshire on Saturday. What might have hurled the squad into a slump has instead provided the spark they needed to come home and score an important 3-1 win over Hofstra on Wednesday.
“I think finally a switch went off in their heads. Like, ‘okay, we know we’re good,’” said head coach Matt Viggiano.
Penalty kicks have been something of a struggle for the Red Foxes recently. Not since 2016 has a Marist Men’s Soccer team scored more than one in a season, though amassing eight chances since that time.
Reigning Marist penalty taker, Allen Gavilanes, was taken down while attempting a shot at the top of the 18-yard box. After losing his spot-kick role in light of a miss against St. Joseph’s, junior center back, Huib Achterkamp, stepped up for the opportunity. The LIU-Brooklyn transfer buried the 39th minute penalty into the bottom left corner, leaving no chance for a miracle Hofstra save.
“It’s kind of been our bugaboo for the last couple of years. He’s confident and we’ve worked on it in practice,” Viggiano said about Achterkamp taking over the penalty role.
Despite the goal, the only reason the Red Foxes took their lead into the locker room at halftime was because of the efforts of sophomore goalkeeper, Samuel Ilin. Ilin made six first half saves, notching a career high in just the first 45 minutes and keeping his team in the game as well.
“He’s a big time goalie. We have all the confidence in the world in him,” Viggiano said. “He let us kind of find our bearings a little bit and then we picked him up in the second half.”
Ilin finished the match with those same six saves, as the Pride gave him far less to do after halftime.
Freshman forward, Stefan Copetti, punished the Hofstra defense with a strike in the 59th minute. The first goal of his Marist career was a beauty, and one that is a little overdue.
“It’s been coming because he deserves it,” his coach said. “Him and I spent some time yesterday after practice. I saw a little something in his form… And we got the dessert tonight!
Though the Pride clawed their way back into the game and notched a penalty kick goal, Gavilanes was having none of it. With 15 minutes left to play, the winger cut inside and beat two defenders and the keeper for a tricky near-post goal.
With conference competition up next, this game was pivotal in shaping the mentality of the team.
“They were a tough opponent, they beat big teams. So that’s giving us a lot more confidence going into the MAAC,” said Gavilanes.
And just in time.
Marist begins their MAAC campaign next week at Niagara University. If their “switch” stays flipped like Viggiano hopes, this team has a real chance to upset the preseason conference polls.
Edited by Bridget Reilly