Red Foxes Slip Past Iona in MAAC Tournament Play-In Game

Number eight-seed Marist kept its season alive with an 11-10 victory over nine-seed Iona in the play-in round for the MAAC Conference Tournament on Friday morning at Fairfield University’s Rafferty Stadium.

“We had a great win today,” head coach Jessica Wilkinson said of her team all around. 

Senior goalkeeper Delaney Galvin was one of the stars for the Red Foxes today, making 18 saves in the game, a season-high. 

“You play like you breathe. You don’t think when you breathe, so just play,” Galvin said to JJ Duke in the post-game interview for ESPN. “I think that was the mentality I had through the entire game, especially when it was so tight.”

The contest between the two teams was tight consistently through both halves. No team led by more than two goals at any point during the 60 minutes. 

The first four minutes of the game went back and forth. Marist opened the scoring just over a minute into the game, with a bounce shot from senior Kelly George. 40 seconds later, sophomore Kerri Gutenberger caught a pass on top of the crease from Devon Connolly to make it 2-0 Marist early. Iona responded, with goals from senior Sara Stewart and junior Katherine Meyer to tie it up. 

George had another chance to score and overtake the lead. With one second left on the shot clock, George fired to the top corner and hit the post, which resulted in a fresh 90. However, the officials were unsure if the ball hit the twine in the back of the net, but after review declared it was not a goal. 

Iona broke the tie six minutes later, with junior Megan Collins executing a roll dodge to beat her defender. But Marist freshman Hannah Spease scored the first goal of her career to tie the game. Sam Mehalick caught a pass on top of the crease to overtake the lead, this time with the assist from Gutenberger.  

Meyer tied the game for the Gaels shortly thereafter, and on the next possession for the Red Foxes, Alex Di Chiara would go down holding her knee from a non-contact play. She did not return to the game. Di Chiara is a huge asset to Marist on offense, but the attack adjusted accordingly. 

Mehalick broke the tie on a free-position chance with two minutes left in the first half to close it out with the Red Foxes up by one heading into the last 30 minutes. 

Stewart opened the scoring for Iona in the second half with two goals to overtake the lead. The Gaels almost went on a 3-0 run, but Meyer’s goal was disallowed due to a crease violation. It was a turnover that the Red Foxes capitalized on, with George scoring her second of the day between the legs of goalkeeper Elyse Darcy. That sparked a Red Foxes mini-run, with two consecutive goals after George made it 6-6 from Mehalick.

Mehalick’s second of the game came off a free position shot that she put away cleanly. Her third came off a feed from Connolly at the top of the twelve. The ball was a little behind Mehalick, but she caught it and shot behind her back to extend the lead to eight. 

The Gaels still had some spirit as they tied the game again, with goals from freshman Alexa Skoubas and Stewart, but Marist had a response. This time it was Gutenberger with the fake up high on Darcy, then placed the shot down low. 

The Red Fox defense continued to stand their ground down the stretch, something they have struggled a bit with since returning from the pause. Sophomore Camryn Stoner intercepted the ball right in front of Galvin and ran it down the length of the field to pass it off to the attack. It led to Connolly ripping a shot top corner after beating her defender. 

“I think it was a lot of mentality,” Coach Wilkinson said about her team’s performance in the last few, close games like this one where they came out on the losing end. “Even the players said that they had a good feeling on the field today and had a sense of control that they didn’t have in games past, so I think it’ll be really big for us to have that mentality going forward”

Meyer answered back for Iona to complete her hat trick, but Mehalick, on her fifth goal of the day, put the Red Foxes up 11-9 with just over 10 minutes left. She was shoved after the play, which resulted in an uncontested draw for senior Isabelle Stockman, who went 13-21 with draw controls today. 

Junior Emma Rippon found the net for Iona for the last time with seven and a half minutes to go. Iona was still firing shots off, but Galvin and the defense held them off down the stretch. 

“I just have to put my mind, lock-in, buy-in,” Galvin said. “My defense gave me all the shots that I wanted to see, and that’s how we were so successful.”

The Red Foxes have a quick turnaround, as they play against the number one seed Fairfield tomorrow again at Rafferty Stadium. The opening draw is set for noon. 

Edited by Jonathan Kinane

Photo from Marist Athletics

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