After an emotional victory on Tuesday night, the Marist men’s lacrosse team was back in action Saturday night at Tenney Stadium. Looking to secure another win before heading into the MAAC Tournament this week, the Red Foxes took on the Manhattan Jaspers, who were 4-2 heading into tonight’s matchup and were looking to build off their 13-12 overtime victory over the Siena Saints from last weekend.
The last matchup between the Red Foxes and the Jaspers ended in a low-scoring 6-5 Marist victory on March 23, 2019. The tides of tonight’s game seemed to follow that same defensive rhythm as Marist struggled offensively at the start. However, after notching 12 second-half goals, the Red Foxes sealed their third victory of the season with a final score of 14-7.
The Jaspers dominated in the first quarter, finding the net first with a goal from senior attackman Jake Nicolosi. After a Marist turnover with 11:51 remaining, the Jaspers struck gold again, this time from sophomore attackman Kyle Gucwa. The Foxes struggled to find any rhythm in the first quarter as the Jaspers’ senior goalie Brendan Krebs made save after save. Finally, with 8:00 remaining in the opening period, senior attackman Vitto Musso scored. Nearly five minutes later he scored again, making it 2-2 at the end of the first quarter.
“Manhattan is an exceptionally well-coached team. We have battled with them for years now,” head coach Keegan Wilkinson said. “They did a great job in the first half and throughout the whole game, but limiting us at the beginning of the game was a product of us trying to do a little too much. Once we settled in and started playing team offense and defense, we were able to be successful there. Manhattan challenged us and we know that we are going to continue to see some great challenges as we move forward with the tournament.”
The second quarter was a defensive battle until the end. Marist’s freshman goalie Logan Covey continued to make impressive saves, racking up 13 by the end of the game. For the Jaspers, Krebs continued to show off in the second quarter, totaling 12 saves by halftime and 17 overall. “The defense did a really great job in limiting them and forcing them to take the shots that Logan wanted to see,” Wilkinson said. “The biggest thing the defense did was getting contact on shooters and really disrupting them and making them uncomfortable. I think that is something with limited practice that is hard to get repetitions of. I think the guys are starting to see that if we can do that, that we can have a lot of success in the defensive half of the field.”
The Red Foxes had their opportunities — especially when Manhattan was called for a hold, leading to a man-up scenario — but they were unable to convert. Marist had 14 shots on goal and 25 total shots in the quarter but was not able to put up any points. The quarter remained scoreless until Gucwa netted his second of the game with 21 seconds remaining. After a Marist face-off win from Andrew Evans, the Red Foxes tried to even out the score before the half. However, after another sloppy set, the Jaspers got the ball back and knocked one more on the scoresheet as senior attackman Justin Malpica ended the half with a buzzer-beating goal.
“We just had to focus on ourselves and just take it play by play,” graduate student long-stick defenseman Sam Ahlgrim said. “You can’t really think of the long run because that’s what hurts you, so just correcting what went wrong and just moving on to the next one. We have played with each other enough that we understand each other and know what we are gonna do.” The Jaspers headed into the break with the momentum and a 4-2 lead.
Marist struck back only a minute into the second half. Midfield graduate student Joe Tierney opened up the scoring and just under a minute later, Musso scored his third of the game with a smooth goal from X. After a series of Manhattan shots and a big Covey save, junior midfielder Tyler Ammirato found long stick junior midfielder JT Roselle for a score, giving Marist the lead with 11:50 remaining in the quarter.
Marist’s defense found some momentum in the third as the Red Foxes held the Jaspers scoreless until sophomore midfielder Christain Lyons put Manhattan on the board with 4:52 remaining. “I said to my teammates for the next 30 minutes you have to go as hard as you absolutely can. I think some people fed off my energy and they saw me getting hype and they got hype as well,” Musso said.
Marist quickly answered back as junior attackman Jamison Embury scored off an assist from junior midfielder Hunter Embury. Jamison scored his second of the game shortly after off an assist from junior attackman Jojo Pirreca, making it 7-5 with 3:57 remaining. Junior attackman Liam Walshe brought the Jaspers within one, ending the third with a score of 7-6 in favor of the Red Foxes.
After a big defensive stance from Marist after a Manhattan faceoff win, Covey stood strong in net leading to a goal from fifth-year Sam Ahlgrim — the first of his career — to start the fourth quarter. “I knew coming back it was something that I wanted to do, but obviously you can’t force the opportunity. It really just goes to show how close our team is and the brotherhood we have here. We are so closer to each other and the way those guys got up for me felt incredible,” Ahlgrim said.
With 11:46 remaining, Musso found the net for the fourth time tonight making it 9-6. Just over a minute later, Pirreca notched one of his own with 10:27 remaining. The momentum was in complete favor of Marist in the fourth as Pirreca scored yet again, growing the lead even further. The red-hot Musso then scored his fifth of the game with 8:02 remaining, giving the Red Foxes a 12-6 lead. The Jaspers scored late in the fourth with 3:21 remaining off a goal from sophomore midfielder Blake Van Epps.
The dominant senior class, who has been the heart and soul of this Marist team, iced things out in the final minutes of the fourth. Senior midfielder David Moyett found the net for a late fourth-quarter goal, followed by senior midfielder Kyle Dizon grabbing one of his own. As challenging as this season has been for everyone, the seniors and fifth-year players have definitely felt all the emotions this season. Electing to not have a senior game is an attestment to who these players are and the unity and brotherhood this Marist team has.
“The first thing we are going to do is just enjoy this. To see our seniors play so well tonight, Kyle Dizon, Sam, and David Moyett score, that is a really special moment for these guys and to not have a traditional senior day,” Wilkinson said.” The senior class elected to just come to the game today business as usual and play as opposed to doing anything at all. I think that says a lot about them as to who they are and what they are dedicated to right now. To see those guys play that way and end the game with all of our seniors on the field was super special for us, but I also know for the parents that could not be there with us tonight. I am just super proud of them.”
For Ahlgrim, it is the little things that brought a massive smile to his face after scoring his first career goa., “My call song is actually Led Zeppelin, which is my dad’s favorite band and unfortunately he wasn’t able to be here tonight but being able to hear that over the loudspeaker was definitely a really cool feeling,” he said. “I am sure I am waiting on a text in the locker room from him in there.”
This victory was a well-rounded effort. Face-off specialist Andrew Evans went 13-24 from the circle. On defense, Alghrim led the way by tallying three ground balls and two caused turnovers. Ammirato, Evans, Pierreca, senior midfielder Jason Intermesoli and sophomore midfielder Keenan Deraeve each caused one turnover. Senior defenseman Kyle Stofko added three ground balls to the stat sheet, too.
With the conference tournament right around the corner, the Red Foxes are eligible, as is every team in the MAAC this season. Tournament play is set to start with the quarterfinal round on Friday, April 30. “We are gonna win that first game and win that MAAC Championship. I am very confident we are going to do it,” Musso said.
“Our expectations for the tournament are just to get better from this film,” Wilkinson added. “There are going to be a lot of things we will need to improve on. We just need to take it day by day. We have only had so many opportunities to practice, we are just looking forward to having a good week of practice to get ready for the first round. We know it is going to be a battle, it always is in the tournament. We are fortunate to have some veteran leaders who have been in the tournament before and we are going to lean on those guys to have us ready to play.”
Edited by Sam DiGiovanni
Photo from Marist Athletics