The fifth-seeded Marist Red Foxes traveled up to Buffalo, NY on a cold and windy afternoon for their MAAC Quarterfinal matchup against the fourth-seeded Canisius Golden Griffins. Coming off a big-time win against the Manhattan Jaspers, the Red Foxes looked to build off their shortened season in which they went 3-0. The Golden Griffins, who were the MAAC Champions in 2018 and went 4-4 this season, looked to secure their first postseason win against Marist.
Canisius looked to build off their impressive 8-7 win against Monmouth on April 23 and exact revenge on the Red Foxes who beat them in the 2019 MAAC Semifinal game by one point. They did exactly that, beating the Red Foxes with a score of 14-13.
The Griffins capitalized on the many Marist mistakes and held their own to the end even as the Red Foxes tried to claw their way back up until the buzzer sounded. As many games have gone this season, the Red Foxes were slow to get going. Canisius scored first after a Marist face-off violation with a goal from sophomore midfielder Nathan Conry. With 9:41 remaining in the opening period, junior attackman Jamison Embury evened the score.
However, clearing the ball remained a major issue for the Red Foxes in the first quarter and Canisius found ways to make them pay for their mistakes. After the Embury goal, Canisius went on a 5-0 scoring run. Junior midfielder Hunter Embury finally answered back, making it 6-2 with 5:45 remaining.
Freshman goalie Logan Covey made his first postseason start, clearly showing nerves in the first quarter. However, he found a little rhythm at the end of the first, making back-to-back saves. Canisius still found a way to squeeze one more first-quarter goal out of the Red Foxes with a score from graduate student midfielder Dan Kritkausky.
Building off the momentum in the first, Canisius netted the first goal of the second quarter just 55 seconds into play with a goal from freshman midfielder Hunter Parucki. Marist midfield graduate student Joe Tierney scored one of his own hoping to weaken the gap for the Red Foxes making it 8-3. However, Kritkausky scored his third of the game two minutes later.
Red-hot senior attackman Vito Musso finally found some of his rhythm from the Manhattan game, answering back with 8:31 remaining making it 9-4. Finding some late second-quarter magic, the Embury twins used their twin telepathy to end the half with back-to-back goals; the first from Hunter off a Jamison assist, and then the other way around. Canisius still entered the half with the lead of 10-6.
The Red Foxes struggled in the first half, turning the ball over 10 times. Marist took 12 shots on goal and 20 total shots, and while the wind may have been a factor, the Red Foxes struggled to make effective shots and precise passes in the first half. Covey entered the half with five saves as Canisius senior goalie Matt Vavonese entered with six. Canisius was also winning the ground ball game coming up with 19 ground balls compared to Marist’s 12 in the first half. The faceoff also remained a major issue for the Red Foxes throughout the game. Senior face-off specialist for the Red Foxes, Andrew Evans, was just 10-29 from the circle.
Coming out of the half, Canisius continued to build off their first-half momentum with a goal from freshman attackman Keegan Kozack. The frustration in Marist began to show as the Red Foxes were penalized for an unnecessary roughness call leading to a man-up scenario for the Golden Griffs. With 8:15 remaining in the third, Jamison Embury netted his third of the game off an assist from Musso. Just under three minutes later, junior attackman Mike Penna netted his first of the contest off an assist from junior attackman Jacob Buck, widening the lead for Canisius. Just minutes later, Kozack found the goal for his third time today, making the scoreboard read 13-7 in favor of the Griffs.
Trying to close the growing gap, junior attackman Jojo Pirreca found the goal for the first time today making it 13-8 with 4:42 remaining. After a choppy back and forth series, a Canisius foul led to a 30-second man-up scenario for the Red Foxes resulting in a Hunter Embury goal. The third quarter ended with a 13-9 score in favor of the Griffins.
The Red Foxes put it all out on the line in the fourth. Covey stood strong in the cage, coming up with a big save in the first minute of the quarter. From there, Tierney struck first for the Red Foxes tallying his second of the day bringing Marist within three with 13:16 remaining. The Embury duo continued their impressive drive as Jamison found Hunter for his fourth goal of the day marking the score at 13-11. After a big Marist error leading to a turnover, senior midfielder Ryan Cicci knocked one in for the Griffins.
Marist tried to claw their way back in the final minutes of the fourth, but to no avail. Jamison Embury found the goal for the fourth time with 9:51 remaining and with 3:11 left, Pirreca netted another one to make it a one-point game. The Red Foxes outscored the Griffs 4-1 in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough to take away from the amount the Griffs were able to produce in the first half. After one final effort, the Red Foxes were unable to convert a goal to send the game to overtime as the clock dwindled down.
Jamison Embury led the way with seven points (four goals, three assists), followed by Hunter Embury tacking on four goals and one assist. Tierney and Pirreca added two goals a piece, Musso added one goal and one assist, and Pullera and junior long-stick midfielder JT Roselle each tallied one assist.
Defensively, Covey totaled eight saves. Graduate student defenseman Sam Ahlgrim and Roselle totaled three ground balls and two caused turnovers each, sophomore defenseman Kurt Wessner and Pirreca also added two ground balls and one caused turnover each.
Even with such a heartbreaking finish, this game does not take away from the passion and enthusiasm this team brought to the Marist campus this season. The adversity these Red Foxes were able to overcome is a telling sign of where this Marist team and organization will be in the future.
The leadership from the seniors and fifth-year players was the core of success for this Marist team. Although this season was not the way anyone would have imagined, the chance for these boys to lace up with their “brothers” one more time will serve as a cornerstone and memory for years to come.
Through all the ups and downs, the Red Foxes were able to produce some fun and entertaining lacrosse, notching an impressive 3-1 record and an appearance on SportsCenter Top 10 plays earlier this month. This loss will sting for a while, but there is no doubt the Red Foxes will come out stronger than ever before with a chip on their shoulder next season.
Edited by Sam DiGiovanni
Photo from Marist Athletics