Some might call the game a “tale of two halves”. In some way, however, that might be a disservice to the Red Foxes who had to overcome nearly insurmountable odds.
Past the halfway point in their conference schedule, the Marist Men’s Soccer team was prepared to put out a statement performance Wednesday night against first place Saint Peter’s University. Despite a valiant comeback effort, the home side fell 3-2 in overtime.
One could understand playing more conservative and defensive against the top team in the MAAC, and that’s precisely what the first half looked like. Though each team had a couple shots on target, neither had a definitive opportunity and that is not how head coach Matt Viggiano drew it up.
“I thought we were a little flat,” he said. “There’s no need to be conservative because when we play at our top level, we can beat that team every time.”
They were not at their top level for some time in this match.
A truly puzzling sequence in the 50th minute saw Marist junior Justin Jamie sent to the locker room with a red card for a foul off the ball, followed by a yellow card to a Peacock’s player for an on the ball foul. The whole mess resulted in a Red Fox free kick, and plenty of shouting from both camps wrought with confusion.
“The referee claimed it was violent conduct. We have actually already seen the video, and I’ll leave it at that,“ said Viggiano on the explanation given to him by the officiating crew.
Regardless, the Red Foxes were forced to proceed with 10 men. Short a player, Marist’s back line could not deal with the driven cross across the box which was propelled home by Saint Peter’s Omar Seghiri.
After conceding again, the Red Foxes were down a man and two goals. Junior Huib Achterkamp put the team on his back, scoring on a set piece header and again on a penalty kick to level the match.
— Marist Men's Soccer (@MaristMensSoc) October 24, 2019
Inspired by his team’s perseverance and emboldened by two overtime victories in a row, Viggiano was confident in his squad when regulation concluded. However, it took just five and a half minutes into the extra period for the Peacocks to net the golden goal to extend their winning streak to six, and to end Marist’s at three.
“If we do our job, we’ll see them again,” Viggiano said. “And we’ll let the ball going in the net decide who’s the better team.”
Moving forward, the Red Foxes are trying to maintain the same drive and perseverance they showed while down 2-0 and a player.
“That’s all stuff we’re going to use going forward and I got all the faith in the world in these guys,” said Viggiano. “We’re going to make the playoffs. And then good luck trying to knock us out – that’s how I feel about it.”
Edited by Amelia Nick