In their sixth game of the season, Marist fell to defeat against ninth-ranked University of New Hampshire 2-1 on Tuesday night at Tenney Stadium. The visitors clinched the victory with a penalty kick on the hour-mark.
The Red Foxes were without midfielder Skylar Conway for the game due to injury, who had played over 70 minutes in all of Marist’s previous games before coming off against Howard.
“He picked up a little injury”, said head coach Matt Viggiano. “Something where we don’t want to turn a little thing into something two-weeks, three-weeks”.
Marist had an early breakthrough in the sixth minute when Henrique Cruz, playing on the right side of the midfield pivot, played a through ball behind the defense for striker Richard Morel to run onto. New Hampshire goalkeeper Jassem Koleitat rushed out to try and sweep up the pass, but Morel beat him to it to put Marist ahead with a sweet finish.
In the 16th minute, Morel almost doubled his tally when his finish was ruled out for a foul in the buildup.
“I felt like I was involved a lot in the play trying to get in behind them,” Morel said. “That’s what we were talking about before the game, trying to get in behind the left-back and left center-back.”
That exact pattern of play was the sequence for Marist’s only goal on the night, but it would prove too hard to come by a second time.
Six minutes later, New Hampshire found an equalizer from a free kick on the edge of the box, when Tola Showunmi got on the end of a Sam Henneberg cross.
The ninth-best team in the country kept the pressure on after their goal, trying to break through the Marist backline. Substitute Bilal Kamal forced two saves within a few minutes from the Marist goalkeeper Sam Ilin, with the Red Foxes struggling to get out of their own half 30 minutes through the match.
New Hampshire’s switch to a 4-2-4 formation provided more opportunities on goal, with Marist struggling to deal with the offensive overload. With 10 minutes to go in the first half, Ilin was forced into a one-on-one save after Jacob Gould was sent through on goal.
More pressure came with minutes to go following a short corner routine from the visitors that resulted in a shot from outside the box from Victor Menudier, but his effort was denied by Ilin.
Marist ended the half on the backfoot, stomaching threat after threat on their goal with little reply from their side. The Bobcats had seven shots with four on goal, whereas Marist ended the half with one shot in total.
The home side opened up the second half dominating possession, and nearly capitalized when Kyle Galloway received the ball at the edge of the box following a clearance, but his shot went narrowly wide.
Rory O’Driscoll then gave New Hampshire the lead with a penalty into the bottom corner in the 62nd minute.
Marist could not come back from the deficit, failing to register a shot after New Hampshire took the lead on the night. They would end up with five shots in total, with two on target, to New Hampshire’s 16 shots with eight on target.
“We obviously defended for long parts of the game, I think we were tired, some of it was self-inflicted,” Viggiano said of his team’s inability to possess the ball consistently. “You gotta make some better decisions when we’re on the ball, putting the ball in the box and in dangerous spaces. It’s a learning experience, you play against an experienced team like that, they had no problem putting the ball in behind us”. “I think the goal we let up in the first half we caused ourselves.”
Viggiano believed there wasn’t much difference in the way of quality between the two teams.
“I don’t think there’s that much separating us,” he added. “I think we’re knocking on the door we just gotta learn”.
Marist (3-3) will hope to bounce back when they host Bryant (1-3-1) at Tenney Stadium on Saturday, September 18th.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Bridget Reilly