All Good Things Come to Those Who Wait: Marist Tops Manhattan in Long-Awaited Season Opener

After five short days of preparation for their 2021 season, the Marist women’s lacrosse team looked like they had been practicing all month, with a 9-7 win over Manhattan College–a team they had not seen in two years. 

“It feels great,” head coach Jess Wilkinson said. “It was a battle tonight and we only had five days to prepare for a team who definitely had more time than us. We went into it knowing we were as prepared as we could be and we grinded it out.”

On the opening draw, Marist’s senior attacker Alexandra Di Chiara and Manhattan’s junior attacker Meghan Rodino lined up in the center of the field. After a Manhattan win for the ground ball battle, the Jaspers settled down on attack and started firing shots off immediately. After two saves from the senior goalkeeper Delaney Galvin, Rodino eventually made the first tally after cutting through the eight meter and catching a pass from X. 

Shortly thereafter, sophomore attacker Kerri Gutenberger scored for Marist, the first goal of their long awaited season.

A huge stop on defense from junior Melissa Butcher led to a big transition to attack for Marist. After resetting the shot clock three times, graduate attacker Sam Mehalick did what she does best; found the back of the net to give Marist their first lead of the game, off a pass from senior attacker Devon Connolly.

After Mehalick’s goal, the Red Foxes found themselves going back and forth with the Jaspers, due to turnovers in transition and saves by both goalkeepers. Eventually Manhattan would settle down on offense, scoring three goals straight to make it 4-2 and overtake the lead. 

With the time winding down in the first half, Marist needed to answer quickly. Gutenberger scored her second after juking a defender out at the top of the eight meter arc and carrying it to the cage. 

After the Jaspers were assessed a yellow card for a check to the head during a battle for control of the draw, Marist was a man up with five minutes left in the first. They marched down the field, and settled down to play offense. After a shooting space call, Mehalick stepped up to the second hash to attempt to tie the game. She received another shooting space call on her first chance to give her another opportunity, which she gladly capitalized on. After disallowing that goal for another shooting space, Mehalick buried her third attempt and it counted on the score sheet. 

Connolly was assessed a yellow card in transition with less than a minute to play in the first. Manhattan was hungry to take over the lead again heading into halftime, but Galvin stood tall to keep it tied at four. 

“Everyone keeps telling me ‘good game’,” Galvin said. “But I really owe it all to my defense. They set me up for the shots that I wanted to see and did everything I told them and played really well together. This game goes out to defense.”

Coach Wilkinson couldn’t agree more, “I’m so proud of our defense.”

Marist opened scoring in the second half, after settling down on offense and moving the ball around, Gutenberger found senior attacker Kelly George in the middle of the arc shooting a low shovel shot to the bottom left of the net. 

With the shot clock winding down on Marist’s next possession, Mehalick stepped up for another eight meter. Manhattan goalie Jessica Hise made the save, but gave off a rebound that Di Chiara dived for and buried in the net. 

Senior midfielder Carmella Liscio, Manhattan’s leading scorer last season got on the board with a powerful shot after a methodical possession to keep the game within one.

Marist was then on defense for the next four minutes, as George was assessed a yellow for dangerous propelling. The Red Foxes fought off the two minute penalty, and after a few big saves from Galvin, Marist came out unscathed and set out to settle down on offense for their next chance to score. Mehalick scored her third of the game off another free position shot to make it 7-5.

Marist’s defensive efforts came up big, with 10 caused turnovers in the game. Galvin finished the game with 15 saves. 35 total in her last two games spanning from last season. 

Manhattan cut the lead to within one, as senior attacker Alaina Burgess scored off a feed from sophomore midfielder Reagan Mullins, but Marist responded quickly on their next possession with a Gutenberger goal off an eight meter. It was the sophomore’s first collegiate hat trick. 

After a Marist timeout, George scored her second to extend their lead to nine, the largest lead of the night but Manhattan’s Liscio would answer with just over two minutes left to play in the game to make it 9-7. Liscio’s effort was not enough to spark the Jaspers, as Marist came out on top in their first game in almost a full calendar year.

“I think we played amazing. Obviously there are things that need to be worked out but with five days of preparation for this game, I think we were successful but we aren’t satisfied,” Galvin said of the team. 

The Red Foxes will look to keep this winning momentum going into next week, when they face MAAC preseason favorites Monmouth on March 12 at Tenney Stadium, set to start at 7 p.m.

Edited by Bridget Reilly

Photo Credit: Marist Athletics

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