Marist College was founded back in 1929 by the Marist Brothers. They “strive to make a difference in the world by showing young people that they are loved, safe and cared for,” per the order’s website.
Now, this story is not a history lesson. Rather, a showcase of that same level of compassion, comradery, and respect from the students who represent Marist today on one of its largest stages in college athletics; the lacrosse field.
The Red Foxes ended their unusually short season 3-3. The brotherhood that these young men have for each other contributed to their success. Having a connection and chemistry with each other is an important skill to have, and it definitely shines through on the turf. The attackers shared the ball really well, making sure everyone had a chance to score. They passed the ball to each other with confidence that the next person would make a play. The defense had a sixth sense knowing that teammates adjacent to the ball would be there for a slide or a crash. They truly played for each other. They made it look easy. This unit of men had a naturally organic growing bond.
To paint a picture for how close the men on the lacrosse team are, imagine this: it’s pouring rain on a Tuesday evening at Tenney Stadium, and the Red Foxes are playing under the lights. Marist’s goalkeeper Jake MacGregor just made a spectacular save, but he ran immediately to the bench once the play stopped. He gets to the sideline, saying “Something snapped off my helmet.” Without hesitation, sophomore backup goalkeeper Anthony Novellano takes off his helmet, hands it to MacGregor, and the play continues.
All of this, in a matter of moments.
Novellano is not the only member of the team to do this, or to have this instinct of compassion. These boys did everything to ensure their teammates’ success. That is what set this Red Fox lacrosse team apart from the ones in years past.
“I am really proud that the guys are very close, and we do have a really tight-knit bond here from top to bottom,” Head Coach Keegan Wilkinson said. “As a coach, when you reflect on that, that’s obviously something you are very proud of. It’s something that has been a staple in our program for years.”
Coach Wilkinson also noted that it starts with the alumni that have come through and set the precedent on how to act on and off the field. He mentioned Eddie Coombs, an extraordinary player for the Red Foxes before his career was cut short due to a car accident that killed him in 2011. His legacy lives on through the number 34, awarded to one senior on the team every season, unanimously by the coaches.
The men also noted that they have an amazing group of seniors. Captains and role models, the senior class of 2020 are exceptional people on and off the lacrosse field.
“This group of seniors really keep us whole, and you can see it in games,” sophomore midfielder Tyler Ammirato said. Wikinson piggy-backed off of it and said, ”The seniors are really strong. You look at guys like Joe Tierney, Chris Schlappich and Sam Ahlgrim, our captains, they’ve done an awesome job of setting a high standard and really loving up on the guys.”
Ammirato and redshirt junior Steven Viola noted that not only was the team close on the field, but off the field as well. With many members taking classes, living in houses, or even getting a quick bite in the dining hall together, it was rare to find a men’s lacrosse player alone.
“Top to bottom, everyone is putting in the same investment. That’s our main goal. To have 41 guys that are all invested in the same things,” said Wilkinson. Having a team full of people who are adaptable and after the same goal, is something pretty special. Win or lose though, the Red Foxes have each other’s backs, showing each other that they are “loved, safe and cared for.”
While play may be suspended through the 2020 spring season, the same values are in place that one can expect to see when the Red Foxes return to the field next year. The seniors will graduate, and No. 34 will be assigned to another equally deserving man, but they’re brotherly bond will remain the same from season to season and even grow through this difficult time.
Edited by Amelia Nick and Bridget Reilly