In all of Marist College’s home games thus far this season, goals — as well as precipitation — have rained down at Tenney Stadium.
Weather-wise, the streak continued tonight, with rain pouring on as Marist took on both Mother Nature and Hartford University in their third home game of the young season. And, keeping with the pattern, the goals poured on, too. The Red Foxes flooded the Hawks beating them 14-6 and improving to 3-1 on the year.
Marist was slow out of the gate, which could be attributed to the weather, as rain can be a huge detriment to an offense’s flow, causing slippery sticks and misshapen pockets making it hard to pass and catch.
“We practice in [rain] all the time, and as Coach Wilkinson always says, ‘You gotta have a stick that can throw in the rain’, so we’re ready,” said junior midfielder Jason Intermesoli. “It hasn’t affected us too bad yet, and hopefully it never does.”
Despite a sluggish start to the game — which saw Marist trading goals back in forth in a way fans have not been accustomed to so far this season — Marist overcame any equipment related hiderances and eventually found their groove. The Red Foxes outscored Hartford 11 to three after the first quarter en route to their third win of the season.
Senior midfielder and captain Joe Tierney led the way for the Red Foxes, scoring five goals and Intermesoli also had a career day, scoring four goals and picking up an assist. Sophomore attackman Jojo Pirreca (one goal, two assists), senior midfielder Chris Schlappich (two goals), sophomore attackman Jamison Embury (one goal, one assist), and freshman attackman Kellen Pulera (first career goal) rounded out the rest of the scoring for the ever-selfless and patient Red Fox offense. Senior face-off specialist Peyton Smith had another strong day from the circle, winning 13 of 21 draws.
It wasn’t just the offense that brought it tonight, though. After a rough first quarter, the Marist defense settled in and allowed three goals for the rest of the game, and two of them were in garbage time. Senior Sam Ahlgrim and junior Kyle Stofko had strong nights on defense combining for four caused turnovers and four ground balls.
Freshman defender Kurt Wessner continued his impressive start to the season, causing two turnovers and throwing an incredible “rusty gate” check that sent the Marist sideline into hysterics. Wessner’s introduction to college lacrosse has been a memorable one and he was named MAAC Rookie of the Week last week after a stellar performance against Army.
“It’s been awesome to see Kurt step up, but it’s not very surprising for us as a staff,” said head coach Keegan Wilkinson. “We were really excited about him coming to the program, just his attitude, he’s so relentless and he’s so tough, and he’s really starting to come out of his shell. I mean, he threw a rusty gate… to see a guy some would label as ‘vanilla’ throwing a rusty gate under the lights was an awesome, awesome moment.”
Junior goalie Jake MacGregor followed up his impressive sixteen save performance last week against Army by continuing to demonstrate his impeccable brick wall impression. MacGregor allowed just four goals and saved 10 shots before being subbed out with five minutes left in the fourth quarter for sophomore Anthony Novellano when the game was well out of reach for Hartford. MacGregor has impressed this season, and he has been an anchor for a Marist defense that just keeps exceeding expectations.
“Jake Mac is our wall back there,” said Ahlgrim. “We really lean on him and he’s been stepping up. He’s proven why he’s not only one of the best goalies in the conference but also the country. He is an invaluable piece to our team.”
This win against Hartford University marked the second time in as many seasons the Red Foxes have beaten their America East Conference foe after winning just one of the previous nine meetings. Similar to their win last week against Army, this win against Hartford is tangible evidence of a shift within the Marists men’s lacrosse program, as they have now bested two programs in back to back weeks they have historically had trouble against.
“To get into uncharted territory, that’s a challenge we take head on,” said Wilkinson. “Going into the season we want to play these teams.”
The Red Foxes will try to continue this trend and venture deeper into uncharted territory next week as the head to Pennsylvania to take on Bucknell University, a team they have never beaten in five meetings.
Edited by Dan Statile