In the locker room after the 13-11 loss to #17 Richmond last week, senior captain and midfielder Joe Tierney asked to speak. He stood in front of his teammates and coaches and tried to make it clear that no one should be patting themselves on the back for hanging tough with a top twenty team. He wanted his teammates to be angry, because being angry meant that they believed they were good enough to have won, and Tierney believed they were good enough to beat anyone.
The times of moral victories, and competitive losses were over.
This was a new era.
The players bought in. Sure enough, today, on a cold and rainy Tuesday at Tenney Stadium, Marist flipped the script. The Red Foxes took down #9/7 Army West Point for the first time in program history, 17-9, in what might be the greatest regular season win in the 28-year history of Marist men’s lacrosse.
“We were mad in that locker room last week. We thought we should have beat [Richmond] and no one was talking about us at all coming into this one,” said Sophomore attackman Jamison Embury. “That fuels the fire for us. We came in under the radar and we wanted to show that we’re the real deal.”
Embury was certainly the real deal day today, leading the way for the Red Foxes with four goals in addition to racking up three assists. The sophomore– who was named to the MAAC All-Championship team last season after he had eleven points in the tournament’s two games– seems to have a knack for playing his best in big spots, even though he seems to think it’s just a coincidence.
“We all play off each other, from the seniors in the locker room to everyone on the field,” said Embury. “We’re playing as a team and we work the ball, and today was my day. The ball was in my stick a lot and I cashed in. I was just doing my job and so was everyone else.”
The “next man up” attitude and “could be anyone’s day” cliches aren’t just an act. Marist truly seems to be committed to playing this way, and the statistics speak for themselves. The Red Foxes unselfish offense had nine different goal scorers today and seven different players tally assists.
Sophomore attackman Jojo Pirreca continued his red-hot start scoring two goals and getting three assists and junior attackman Jake Weinman had a hattrick which included a spectacular behind the back goal that ended up as #2 in SportsCenter’s Top 10. Long-stick midfielder JT Roselle had a goal and assist and Joe Tierney led by example by adding two goals and an assist. Army had allowed just a total of nine goals on the year coming into the game, but looked completely lost defending the Red Foxes all day.
Defensively, the Red Foxes looked stout holding Army to just nine goals despite the fact that the Black Knights offense had scored 17, 19 and 15 goals in their first three games this season. West Point senior Miles Silva had a big day scoring five goals. But ultimately this young Marist defense – senior face-off specialist Peyton Smith (17-28 on FO’s) and junior goalie Jake MacGregor (16 saves) – were too much for the Army’s normally high-powered offense.
“Coach Scarello put in a great game plan for us, and we adjusted well after they put a quick four goals up on us,” said MacGregor. “We held them close defensively, guys gave me good shots to see and I was able to make some stops.”
While Marist might have come into this game under the radar, this win could potentially be their coming out party on the national stage. In his ninth season as head coach for Marist, head coach Keegan Wilkinson isn’t too worried about what kind of attention a win of this magnitude will bring the program.
“We embrace that stuff,” said Coach Wilkinson. “We’ve had wins over top ten teams in the past and continually get overlooked for whatever reason. Because of the way the Army has been playing this is definitely a statement for us, and the guys deserve some recognition, but we still have a lot to improve on.”
The Red Foxes entered their game against Army this afternoon having never beaten their Hudson Valley foes in program history. Marist had handily lost all three of their prior matchups against Army, including a 10-4 thrashing just last season.
History seemed destined to repeat itself today, as Marist entered the game at 1-1 and coming off a loss to Richmond, while Army entered the game 3-0 (two of those wins against ranked teams) and ranked ninth in the country. No one in their right mind would have believed Marist would pull it off.
But that’s why they play the games.
Edited by Dan Statile
Header photo by Mike Cahill