The regular season is over, and there is no time left for Marist men’s soccer to prove how good they are.
All that matters from here on out is to win, and nothing else. Survive and advance is the name of the game, but to do that, the Red Foxes need to be far better at one crucial aspect of their game.
You can’t win a soccer game without putting balls in the back of the net. This is not to say Marist has been poor at scoring, per se. Where the concern lies is in the proportion of chances that they are converting.
With 31 team goals this season, Marist falls amongst the top teams in the conference. The regular-season champions, the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, notched a total of 38 this year, and the Red Foxes are right in that range.
The differences can be seen, however, in what each team does to score those goals. Six of Marist’s 31 tallies came in the final game of the season, a walk-in-the-park, blowout victory over Canisius. On top of that five more goals came from the penalty spot this season. This discounts the value of 11 total goals in 2019 and becomes worrying when taking into account the 256 shots Marist has generated.
The team’s leading goal scorer is junior Huib Achterkamp. Achterkamp is a center back and the defensive marshall on the back line. For a team that produces so much offense, it is shocking to see him as the number one man in terms of goals. Granted, the man from the Netherlands took and scored five of the six Red Fox penalty kicks this year. But there are plenty of players on the team who should be scoring more than six goals in a season.
Even the likes of Allen Gavilanes, star junior winger, has only put up six goals despite tallying 64 shots on target this season. With these numbers, Gavilanes is scoring at a rate of .09 – something that needs to be improved in the postseason.
Though the Red Foxes finished with a winning record, their opponents were the more clinical teams throughout 2019. 100 out of Marist’s 256 total shots have been on goal, leaving their shots on goal percentage at .391. Conversely, their opponents have been shooting at a much higher, more accurate rate of .462. Marist’s scoring percentage is also lower than their foes, posting a .121 rate against a .127 rate.
Other top offensive players have not produced at an average pace. Senior Samad Bounthong and freshman Stefan Coppeti scored seven goals on 59 shots combined. These are players who have played every single game in 2019 and are meant to help lead the offensive production. Bounthong is coming off a season in which he was awarded First Team All-MAAC while scoring double the goals and providing two more assists.
The bottom line is that the Red Foxes are better than 90 percent of the teams they play, but they don’t convert the chances they need to in order to dominate the way they have to.
But the time is over to look for improvement game after game. If Marist men’s soccer wants to win the MAAC, they need to put their chances away.
Obviously, the production head coach Matt Viggiano has gotten from his team is enough to get to the postseason. It was even enough to secure a home game in the first round. Where it may not be enough is in the midst of a playoff run facing the best teams in the MAAC.
As long as they play with the same mentality and style as has been consistent all season, their chances will come. Even in the toughest games on their schedule, the Red Foxes were able to build offense and create opportunities for themselves. It’s up to the players to ensure they don’t have a repeat of the Niagara game – a game that Marist outshot the Purple Eagles 21-5, yet lost 1-0.
Taking on Saint Peter’s in the semis, the Red Foxes must be ruthless, and they’ll need to carry that through each game they earn the right to play.
Edited by Will Bjarnar