Water Polo Advances to MAAC Championship in a Thriller over La Salle

Marist prevailed over La Salle University, earning a 12-11 victory in the MAAC Semifinals in the McCann Natatorium. In sudden victory overtime, The Red Foxes ended the game with a goal from Shinae Carrington on a powerplay. Marist improves to 7-0 on the season, and they advance to the MAAC Championship to play Virginia Military Institute tomorrow at 1pm.

“Our biggest thing was just defense,” Carrington said. “We focused the whole game on defense first because then the offensive would come. There were moments where we were rushing, but when we started to slow it down and play our own game.”

Marina Hyahm started the game defending the goal for the Red Foxes as Emma Gurasich blocked the cage for La Salle. For the first time ever, Marina Hyahm and her father, Tom Hyahm, the head coach for La Salle, competed against each other for a spot in the MAAC Championships.

“Leading up to the game, I was thinking about playing against my dad all week,” Marina Hyahm said. “It’s hard to watch your family members lose, but you want to win even more than you want to see them win. I was getting in my own head during the first half, so I just tried to calm myself down.”

Early in the first period, La Salle’s Sarah Defusco beat the goalie and put the ball in the net. Shanna Zuanich gets credit for the assist on that goal. After La Salle’s early possession of the ball, Marist quickly came back to score three goals.

Marist’s Kathryn McCullough beat the goalie in the first period and put the ball in the cage on the five-meter attempt. After three shot attempts from Marist’s Viktoria Orlova missed the back of the net, Carrington scored a goal for the Red Foxes with help from Myriam Lizotte. After a turnover to La Salle, Marist’s Justine Castro got the ball with 45 seconds left on the clock and scored the third goal for the Red Foxes.

In the first minutes of the second period of play, La Salle’s Madison Martinez beat Hyahm and put the ball in the net, assisted by Madelyn Koerper. After Marist missed some opportunities, Defusco fired a goal with a man-up advantage. Martinez added another goal on a five-meter attempt, giving them a 4-3 edge in the second period.

With only 20 seconds left in the second period of play, Castro converted for Marist. Fallon Burnworth got the assist. The teams went to the halftime break tied at 4.

The first goal of the third period went to Orlova, who fired a shot into the back of the cage with a man advantage. After another Marist exclusion, Defusco found the back of the cage off the feed from Martinez. That one came with an extra attacker and leveled the score at 5.

The Explorer’s continued their momentum with two more Defusco goals that stretched LaSalle’s lead to 7-5, their largest of the game.

After a Marist timeout huddle, Lizotte put the ball in the back of the cage, assisted by India Alter. Marist gave up possession of the ball, and Sophie Appler of the Explorers fired a shot to the back of the cage, making the score 8-6 for La Salle at the end of the third period.

At the start of the fourth period, the ball went to Marist, and Orlova hits the back of the net, making the score 8-7 La Salle. The Explorers give up possession, and Marist Head Coach Chris Vidale called a full-time-out with five minutes left in play. After the time out, the ball went in the net off a Lizotte shot, with an assist from Burnworth. With three minutes left in the game, Castro put it in the back of the cage giving Marist back the lead at 9-8.

“I don’t think I played my best personally because I was really nervous in the beginning, and I was just taking shots,” Orlova said. “We were very nervous as a team at first, but we stopped getting into our own heads at the end. Tomorrow, I’m going to try and get more power behind my shots and also not get into my own head.”

Tying the game at 9-9 with only a few minutes left in play, Martinez of La Salle beat the goalie and scored. In the last seconds of the fourth period, Burnworth got the final shot of regulation, but it was blocked by Emma Gurasich, sending the Red Foxes and the Explorers into overtime with things deadlocked at 9.

Marist and La Salle begin overtime with a three-minute addition of time. With one minute left in the first period of overtime play, Orlova fired a shot from far away to score a goal with the pass from Castro. Seconds later, La Salle took advantage of their power play as Karle Linden of the Explorers scored, assisted by Defusco. The teams went to double overtime tied at 10.

“We fought back, and we showed some resilience and grit, Marist Head Coach Chris Vidale said. “We practice this all the time, it’s a game I call six quarters. and we have been in this overtime situation a ton.”

In the second three-minute period of overtime, La Salle’s Malone found the back of the net, giving the Explorers an 11-10 lead. With 28 seconds left and Marist down by one, Marist called a timeout to make some adjustments. With 9 seconds left in overtime, Marist’s Lauren Smith found the equalizer, tying the game at 11-11. The time clock ran out, and the format changed to sudden victory, meaning the team that scores the next goal wins the game.

During the sudden victory period, La Salle’s Malone was whistled for an exclusion against Carrington. With two minutes left in the overtime period, the ball went in the goal for the final time off a Carrington shot on the powerplay. The Red Foxes survived and advanced to the MAAC Championship, where they will face off against Virginia Military Institute tomorrow.

“Tomorrow we will go into the game with fewer nerves and focus on more fundamentals,” Coach Vidale said. “We can’t take anyone for granted and the little things all matter. Tomorrow, we will still play our style of water polo, but we will have to be more defensive-minded.”

Edited by Jonathan Kinane

Photo from Marist Athletics

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