After winning their first ever regular season championship, Marist will host their quarterfinal matchup against Manhattan College at Tenney Stadium Sunday at 5 p.m.
Marist will be the first seed in the MAAC playoffs by virtue of a 10-6-2 conference record, while their quarterfinal opponent, Manhattan, comes to Poughkeepsie with a 6-8-2 record. Along with Marist and Manhattan in the playoffs are Fairfield University, Monmouth University, Niagara University, Rider University, Saint Peter’s University, and Siena College.
The Red Foxes end the season ranking second in goals for (30) and second for goals against (21), with the largest goal-differential in the league. Leading the line for Marist will be junior striker Stefan Copetti, whose nine goals rank sixth in the MAAC standings. Behind him in the 10th role is Kyle Galloway, who had six assists in 17 games, ranking sixth in the assists category. 2019 MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year Sam Ilin boasts a 71 save percentage, fifth in the rankings, only allowing 19 goals on the year.
Marist have typically lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with their midfield double pivot being one of the strongest aspects of their team. The midfield features juniors Antek Sienkel, Henrique Cruz, and Bernardo Gracindo, as their responsibility is to hold firm in front of their defensive line and stop any potential danger before it nears the final third.
A notable tactical detail is that their top-goalscorer and shot-taker Copetti usually lines up on the right-wing, with freshman Richard Morel lined up at striker. This allows Copetti to lose the attention of the defense, along with his the added ability to be able to get a shot off from any angle.
Marist’s defense is structurally sound and dominant in their air, but a potential area of weakness could be through balls in behind. The defensive line has struggled in the past against pacey strikers who find gaps in between the center-back and full-back, and have broken through far too often.
The Red Foxes will have to look out for Oswald Annang and Johan Velez, both leading their team in points with 12. Their goalkeeper, Danny DiMarco, has a 75 save percentage in 14 games for Manhattan. Brandon Joseph-Buadi is ninth in the MAAC conference for shots taken (35) but he only has two goals on the season.
Defenders Huib Achterkamp and Justin Scharf are the only two players to have started every game for Marist this season. Achterkamp is also notably a reliable penalty-kick taker, with an 8-8 record in his college career, netting two in his last two games during this season.
The most impressive spell of the year came in Marist’s three-game clean sheet streak, starting off with a 3-0 win over Manhattan back on Oct. 16. More impressively, Marist hasn’t lost a game since Oct. 9 in their 2-1 loss at Saint Peter’s.
Overall, Manhattan has a -six goal differential with 21 goals for and 27 goals conceded, and they rank eighth in shots total with 194. A possible weakness is penalty-kick success. They’ve only scored one of the three they’ve taken, while Marist has scored all three of their penalty opportunities.
Now, the playoffs run through Marist’s stadium. As the regular-season champions, it’s Marist’s best chance to win their fourth MAAC Championship, and their first since 2005.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez and Bridget Reilly
Photo Credit: Bridget Reilly