Marist Shows Heart, Fights to 1-1 draw against Fairfield in MAAC opener

The Marist women’s soccer team battled into double overtime in their 1-1 draw against Fairfield in their MAAC opener. The Red Foxes, ranked eighth in the MAAC preseason poll, fought hard against Fairfield, ranked fourth in the same poll.

For the first 30 minutes, both teams maintained spells of possession, but neither was able to produce a quality chance. Marist’s defense was stellar as they were quick to press after losing the ball. Junior defender Samantha Sturno and graduate student defender Deanna Lomino were excellent for the Red Foxes as they were making timely plays, and they were leading the offensive charge.

“We’re so happy and thankful that we got Deanna, her experience has been great for us. We have emphasized that we defend with all 11, and we attack together,” said Head Coach Brittany Kolmel.

The offenses picked up in the final 15 minutes as both teams were testing the goalkeepers. Senior goalkeeper Natalie Kelchner made a timely save for the Red Foxes, and she forced Fairfield sophomore forward Elle Scott into a miss in the 32nd minute. For Fairfield, junior goalkeeper Gena Pike made an excellent save in the 40th minute on a shot from Marist’s sophomore midfielder Amanda Caldarelli. Pike has been named MAAC Defensive Player of the Week twice this season.

The Red Foxes changed up their attack by inserting senior forward Victoria Colatosti and junior forward Brooke Cergol into the lineup. The two have become impact substitutes for the Red Foxes, and they have accepted their roles.

“What I love about the two of them is that it’s never about them, it’s never about ego, it’s about every single player being able to make an impact. I think our topline being able to rotate with six or seven players is going to be tough to defend,” Kolmel said. 

“This team is just so close, we all understand our roles, and I just observe what everyone is doing and then try to make an impact,” said Cergol.

As halftime was approaching, Cergol opened the scoring for the Red Foxes in the 42nd minute. The Red Foxes had a wonderful buildup play leading to a cross from Colatosti that fell to senior defender Riley Abate. Abate controlled the ball and quickly found Cergol in the box, who took a touch and fired a shot into the far corner. Cergol now has 2 goals in her last 3 games. 

“There was maybe ten passes before my goal, I just had an easy shot,” Cergol said.

Fairfield opened the scoring early in the second half on a goal from senior forward Stephanie Tsangaris. Scott dribbled into the box and fired a shot off the hands of Kelchner leading to a rebound that Tsangaris headed home. After the goal, both teams produced quality chances, but neither was able to capitalize on them. Kelchner was excellent for the Red Foxes, making save after save. The two teams then prepared for the overtime period.

“We always say keepers have to make that save, and she had to make three of them, so it’s always living in that moment and preparing for it,” Kolmel said.

“I have to give it up to our backline, I really could not do it without them,” said Kelchner. 

The overtime period was controlled by Marist as they forced Pike into making some tough saves. Pike saved a shot in the 91st minute from sophomore midfielder Briget Dudziec. Kelcher also came up with a huge save in the overtime period when she saved a shot from inside the six-yard box. Marist continued to apply pressure and almost found a winner in the final 30 seconds when Colatosti fired a shot at Pike. 

“It’s tough, but it comes with the position and you just have to learn over time. As a senior, this is something that I have been practicing the last three seasons, and I have learned to stay focused,” Kelchner said. 

Marist improves to 1-3-1 on the season, and they are pleased to start conference play with a draw. They continue to post the best save percentage in the MAAC with .852, and they are also top-50 in the country in that category. They also proved that they belong with the best teams in the MAAC.

“Yeah, when we saw that eighth spot we were not happy at all, and we know that we are slept on and that we have something to prove. We’re here to make an impact and statement,” Cergol said. 

“I think starting off conference play against the number four team and getting a draw is a good result,” Kolmel said.

Marist will return to action next week when they host Saint Peter’s on Sunday, September 26 at 1 pm.

Edited by Jonathan Kinane

Photo from Bridget Reilly

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