After a scorching hot 3-1 start that saw the Marist men’s lacrosse team receive both national attention and ranking, the Red Foxes have now lost two games in a row and suddenly find themselves at 3-3. after falling to the University of Delaware Fighting Blue Hens in dramatic fashion on Saturday afternoon. The loss continued Marist’s winless streak against Delaware, as the Blue Hens have now won all five meetings in the history of the two programs.
The final score proved to be contrary to the laws of the animal kingdom, as at Tenney Stadium it was the Hens who proved to be too much for the Foxes, winning 15-14. Delaware improved to 4-2 on the season and the loss was Marist’s first loss at home in 2020.
Senior attackman Charlie Kitchen paved the way for the Blue Hens, outmaneuvering the Red Fox defense to the tune of three goals and two assists.
“Kitchen is a great player who gave us a couple of points in transition,” said Marist head coach Keegan Wilkinson. “He’s a very good player but I think [senior defender Sam Ahlgrim] did a great job on him, but it’s not a one-on-one thing. If somebody’s scoring it’s a result of team defense and once we buckled down he didn’t score in the second half.”
While Kitchen had a big afternoon, he wasn’t the only one slicing and dodging through Marist’s back three. Sophomore attackman Tye Kurtz also played well, scoring two goals with four assists, as did senior midfielder Bryce Reid who added a hattrick. This Blue Hen offense exploded in the second half and ultimately proved too much for Marist goalie Jake MacGregor and the Red Fox defense.
On a day that produced a disappointing result, there were still a few bright spots for Marist. Redshirt junior attackman Jake Weinman had four goals two of which were dazzling behind-the-back goals that got the crowd going. These goals have become somewhat of a staple for the attackman, as earlier this season he was featured on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays for a similar play, and there’s a decent chance after today he will make a reappearance on the show.
Junior defender Kyle Stofko also once again shined. Stofko picked up three ground balls and caused one turnover. A transfer from Wagner College, Stofko has been excellent so far this year and last week he was recognized for that, being named MAAC Defensive Player of the Week. The defender has really stepped up on a defense whose identity was uncertain in preseason. While Stofko’s play wasn’t enough Saturday, he’s certainly a player to watch going forward.
Though Delaware ultimately came away with a narrow victory, it seemed like Marist was going to come out on top after the first half. The Red Foxes convincingly led 7-5 at halftime, but the Blue Hens defensively switched to a zone for the second leg of the contest — which stalled the Marist attack– and Delaware outscored Marist 9-7 (6-3 in the third quarter) in the final 30 minutes of the contest.
“They did a really good job of preparing, and they threw a zone at us, which I should have had the guys a little more prepared for,” said Wilkinson. “We ended up adapting, as guys did a great job communicating but unfortunately we weren’t ready to go at the start of the third quarter.”
Marist nearly rallied all the way back in the final minutes thanks to a filthy goal by Jojo Pirrecca which pulled the Red Foxes within one (15-14) with two minutes and thirty-six seconds left to play. After what looked like a missed offsides call that had the Marist faithful up in arms, the Red Foxes made a crucial stop on defense and did eventually get the ball with a chance to tie it with 30 seconds left. Wilkinson called a timeout and drew up a play that saw the Foxes get two clean chances to tie it, but James Lyons’ shot was wide and Pirecca’s shot was denied by Delaware’s senior goalie Matt Deluca as time expired.
“Coming out of that timeout we had to have two different plans, because we had to be ready for zone and man,” said Wilkinson. “I thought Jason Intermesoli passing up a shot to make one more pass to his teammate in crunch time was huge because it’s good to see your team stick together and not be selfish. I can’t say enough about how hard the offense played there in the fourth quarter to give us a shot at it.”
The win was much needed for Delaware, as their upcoming schedule is rather treacherous. In the next two weeks they will have to face storied programs in John Hopkins and Michigan before they begin competitive Colonial Athletic Association league play.
While Marist was the preseason favorite to win the MAAC (and certainly still is) it’s hard to imagine the Red Fox locker room is too pleased with the way things have gone the last two weeks. Regardless, Marist is looking forward to starting league play, and righting the ship.
“We got to learn from this film,” said Wilkinson. “Obviously coming in to a rematch of the conference championship, we know it’s going to be a really big game, a highly contested game and it’s going to be a big test this week in terms of how we handle it. I have no doubt that the guys will come out ready to work on Monday and try to improve and get ready for a huge one against Quinnipiac.”
With this loss, the Red Foxes will enter MAAC play next week against Quinnipiac University with a .500 record despite such an electrifying start.
Edited by Dan Statile
Header photo by Mike Cahill