The Marist women’s lacrosse team was picked fourth in the MAAC preseason poll. Not a bad place to be in by any means, but lower than their dominating win over top-ranked Monmouth would suggest. The 15-11 win on Friday night at Tenney Stadium speaks volumes around the conference, showing that Marist is a top competitor and hungry to compete every time they step onto the field. They start the season 2-0, the first time since 2018.
“We feel really good,” Coach Jess Wilkinson said after the victory. “This was one of those tests that we had to just prove to ourselves ‘what can we accomplish to prepare in such short time?’” Noting the quick, five-day turnaround between their first and second games.
Senior attack Kelly George scored seven monster points (three goals and four assists). Her four assists moved her career total to 71, three behind 2017 graduate Olivia Pitonzo’s 74, who ranks fourth overall on the list.
“This is a game we look forward to every single year,” George said. “This is a big win and we really showed up tonight.”
The Red Foxes showed up right from the starting faceoff. The first draw went their way, taken by senior Isabelle Stockman, who took every single draw for Marist.
Winning the draw is a huge deciding factor in who will ultimately win the game. Both teams tied in that category, with 14 apiece, showing how hard-fought and evenly matched Stockman and her midfielders were on the circle.
During the first battle for possession, fifth-year Hawk Rachel Mills has assessed a green card, causing the Red Foxes to be a man up 22 seconds into the game. Marist moved down the field and set up on offense, a free position goal from graduate student Sam Mehalick put the Red Foxes up 1-0.
After Mehalick’s goal, Monmouth went on a three-goal hot streak, campaigned by their fifth-year prominence. MAAC Preseason Player of the year Nicole Ceraso put her team on the board first with a crease roll, attack Allison Turturro scored next, and then Mills on a drive to the cage.
The deficit was nothing Marist couldn’t handle. On the next trip on offense, senior Devon Connolly set up on the eight-meter and fired it top left on Monmouth’s fifth-year goalie Stephanie Dellituri. The one-goal gap would not stand for long, as Senior Caroline Bleck responded off a free position shot from the hanging hash.
Mehalick had an opportunity again from the second hash that she put away cleanly. Marist then went a man-up on another card to Monmouth. Sophomore Kerri Gutenberger was hanging out in the middle of the eight when she got the ball and shot wide. George picked up the possession behind the net, and carried it up across the eight-meter, and scored her first of the game to tie the game at four.
Monmouth tried to hold high pressure on Marist to try and force them to stay away from the cage. Cutting off adjacents was going to prevent the Red Foxes from finding each other, but they found a way to read the Hawks well and put eight players on the scoresheet.
“That was something different that we hadn’t seen yet,” Coach Wilkinson noted. “We wanted to test our 1-v-1s and test those lanes that they weren’t giving us and when they crashed to the ball to see the heads-up opportunities and take it to our advantage.”
A huge stop by senior goalkeeper Delaney Galvin on Ceraso down low kept the game at tied, and another yellow card being assessed to the Hawks put Marist up a player again for the next two minutes. Junior Alex Di Chiara capitalized on a feed from George in the center of the eight-meter, shooting off stick to take the lead, 5-4.
Monmouth’s Carli Mangum answered to tie it again, but Marist wasn’t done scoring. They went on a tear of three straight to the back of the net, coming from George, Gutenberger, and Mehalick, to complete the first-half hat trick for the decorated attacker.
George noted that communication was big for the offense tonight. “Seeing what they were going to go and just feeling it and playing it out. If they slid, we hit the feeds and it worked well for us tonight.”
Before the first half ended, Turturro put one away in an attempt to try and breathe some life back into the Hawks to make the score 8-6.
Monmouth would bring the pressure early in the second half, with a free position opportunity for Bleck, she hit the post and the ball flew into the stick of senior defender Allison Mahoney who led the transition up the field. Senior Isabelle Stockman rolled the crease and stutter-stepped to fool her defender to open up the scoring for Marist in the half.
Marist was clean in transition off clears, going 23-for-25.
Ceraso would answer to make it 9-7 but after that, Monmouth was held scoreless for almost three minutes. Galvin stuffed two Monmouth shooters, and the Red Foxes solid defense forced countless turnovers. George scored her third after burning the high pressure imposed by the defense and carrying the ball across the crease, forcing Dellituri to slide a little too far over.
Stockman drew a yellow card for a check to the head, putting Monmouth a player up; an opportunity fifth year Sarah Gillogly would capitalize on. It sparked some good looks for the Hawks, but a point-blank save by Galvin right in front of her crease squashed any hopes halfway through the second.
Defense played big in this game again, forcing 12 turnovers. Galvin finished the game with 13 saves, nine of them in the second half.
Junior Melissa Bucher scored the eleventh goal for her team, the first of her college career, off an assist from George.
Di Chiara scored off a feed from George, and Gutenberger scored off of a free position opportunity, after getting two calls on her first two and finally putting the shot away on the third chance.
Monmouth only scored three more goals, one apiece from junior Taylor Emmell, Turturro, and Ceraso, who tied Monmouth’s program record for career points with her three goals and assist.
Freshman Maddie Schrader scored the first goal of her young career for the Red Foxes, a glimpse into the future attack of this team.
“We have changed our mindset since past seasons,” Coach Wilkinson said. “I really want us to concentrate on us, no matter who the opponent is. It was only our second game, but I really wanted us to focus on ourselves because that was going to give us the better outcome long term, even if we didn’t come out with a win today.”
Marist looks to continue their streak, hoping 3-0 to open the season for the first time in program history when they make the trip up to Buffalo to play back-to-back games against Canisius. The first of the series will be played on March 19th, set to start at 4 p.m.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane