It all comes down to this. Either first-seeded Marist or fifth-seeded Rider will be crowned the MAAC Champion on Sunday, Nov. 14 to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament.
Kickoff between the Red Foxes and the Broncs is set for 11 a.m. ET at Tenney Stadium, and it will also be streamed on ESPN+ for those who cannot attend.
This will be head coach Matt Viggiano’s first-ever MAAC Championship final appearance since taking the reins back in 2007. He was, however, the assistant coach for Marist when they beat Fairfield 2-1 to win it all in 2005.
In his 14 seasons in charge, Coach Viggiano has taken his teams to the quarterfinals six times and has advanced on three of those occasions to the semifinals. Yet, he’s never been able to advance to the big game.
Can Coach Viggiano and the team finally end this 16-year drought on Sunday?
In Marist’s semifinal game against Monmouth, forward/midfield graduate student Kyle Galloway assisted junior defender Bernardo Gracindo’s curling effort — his first goal as a Red Fox — into the right-hand side of the net. That gave them the 1-0 shutout victory, their ninth shutout of the season.
Marist outshot Monmouth 15-13, but had fewer shots on target with 6-5. Marist also had more corner kicks with five, while Monmouth had one.
In Rider’s semifinal game against Fairfield, the Broncs prevailed 2-1 after double OT thanks to midfielder Tanner Bay’s 108th-minute, game-winning goal. This came despite freshman midfielder/back Jack McGeechan’s red card in the 84th minute.
Rider outshot Fairfield 16-5 and nine of those were on target. Rider also had the edge in corners, 9-3. Another stat to take note of; there were eight yellow cards and one red card in the game, indicating that the final could be a physical affair.
Rider and head coach Charlie Inverso will be looking for their first MAAC title since 2018.
Inverso was hired by the Broncs in 2011 and has since won the MAAC Championship three times — 2015, 2016, and 2018. Given this prior success, Inverso has the edge on Viggiano in terms of championship experience.
Recent Matchup History
Taking a look back at the regular season, these two teams squared off at Tenney Stadium on Oct. 18, where the Red Foxes took down the Broncs 4-2. This was also the first game that started an eight-game unbeaten streak for Marist.
Marist edged out Rider in shots 14-9, 9-6 on target, and in corners 9-6. In terms of fouls, both teams combined for 25, including six yellow cards and a red card in the 32nd minute on Rider’s Tyrell Moore.
In head-to-head matchups all-time, Marist has an 11-7-2 record, but when Coach Inverso and Coach Viggiano have matched up, the matchup is in favor of Inverso with a 5-4-1 record. However, Viggiano has gotten the best out of Inverso in their last two meetings.
Rider has five MAAC Championships wins, three of which were during Coach Inverso’s tenure. Marist has three to its name, including a 2-0 win over the Broncs back in 2004, sparking a back-to-back championship run.
Players to Watch
From the Red Foxes squad, the player Rider must look out for is graduate student Kyle Galloway, as he now has a combined two goals and two assists in his last two games.
The Broncs must also look out for junior forward Stefan Copetti, who is on a three-game pointless streak but remains a threat to any side with his movement on and off the ball.
Captain and 2021 MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Huib Achterkamp will be leading the defense alongside redshirt junior Demarre Montoute, both of whom have been critical in blanking Manhattan and Monmouth in the MAAC playoffs.
Goalkeeper of the Year Sam Ilin will also be a player to watch, as he has only had to make eight saves in the two playoff games. Sunday may prove to be his biggest test yet, as he’ll be up against the MAAC Offensive Player of the Year Zaki Alibou.
Rider’s Alibou scored ten goals and notched five assists — 25 points — en route to an Offensive Player of the Year award and was selected to the All-MAAC First Team. He hasn’t notched a point since Oct. 27 when they defeated Iona 1-0. He also hasn’t scored since Oct. 23 in a 4-1 rout over Canisius.
Copetti will have a tough matchup against All-MAAC First Team defender and graduate student Sergio Aguinaga, who has helped keep a clean sheet in two of their last five games.
All-MAAC Rookie Team goalkeeper Guillame Veinante will also be one to look out for, as he has five saves in two playoff games.
Finally, All-MAAC Rookie Team midfielder Adel Al-Masude will be critical in creating plays, and he’ll be a goal-scoring threat after scoring four goals and assisting four this season.
This final has the makings of being an instant classic. A coach looking for his first MAAC Championship going up against a three-time MAAC title winner, Players of the Year, several First, Second, and Rookie All-Team members, and a rematch of the 2004 MAAC Championship.
Will Coach Inverso clinch his fourth title or will Coach Viggiano win his first? It will all go down Sunday morning, Nov. 14 at Tenney Stadium at 11 a.m.
Edited by Isabella Cicinelli & Connor Kurpat
Image from Marist Athletics