The Marist Red Foxes fell to the Providence Friars 2-0 Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Their historic season of appearing in the tournament for the first time in 16 years and having the most wins in 22 years, is now over.
The victory goes to Providence as their coach, Craig Stewart advances to yet another second-round NCAA game to face defending national champions and 14th-seeded Marshall. Marist is now 0-3 all-time in the big dance. Marist head coach Matt Viggiano is now 0-1 in that category.
“Obviously, the guys are disappointed, but for me they can still hold their heads high. That’s a good team that we lost to tonight. They finished second in the Big East for a reason. We got beat by a better team tonight,” said Viggiano.
There were no shots between the two teams until the 13th minute when the Friars really started to find their footing in the game. Leading-goal scorer sophomore forward Brendan McSorley shot into the bottom right-hand corner, which was easily saved by Marist’s Sam Ilin.
The Friars would then go on to have four more shots before McSorely had the clearest chance of the first half after Ilin’s save fell right to McSorley’s feet, who blasted the ball over the crossbar just outside the six-yard box.
Marist only had two shots in the first half -neither of which were on target–and one of which was from Kyle Galloway, from 25 yards out. The graduate student forward put his laces through the ball only for it to go just wide of the left post.
Providence kept on attacking as senior midfielder Kevin Vang saw his curling effort fly just beyond the left post–a shot that Ilin may not have been able to save.
The breakthrough of the game finally came for the Friars when sophomore midfielder Armaan Wilson crossed a ball into the middle of the six-yard box and senior midfielder Christopher Roman went for a diving header. He made contact with the ball, and found the bottom left-hand corner for Providence in the 40th minute, giving Providence a 1-0 lead.
The half ended with ten shots from the Friars and only two from the Red Foxes, along with Ilin making four saves for Marist to keep the game at 1-0.
It was a bit more balanced in the second half, but Providence still retained most of the possession throughout.
The Friars would yet again have the first shot in the 49th minute, as senior midfielder Paulo Lima shot straight to Ilin to get their offense on the front foot.
Only three minutes after that, junior defender Henrique Cruz got a yellow card for a very late challenge on a Providence player. After which, a small scuffle broke out amongst the players on the field with the two coaches exchanging a few words on the sideline.
Matters only got worse for the Red Foxes as graduate student captain and MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Huib Achterkamp went off the pitch injured after slide-tackling the opposing attacker, which forced a corner kick. Sophomore midfielder Justin Rodriguez replaced him following the injury.
In the 56th minute, Ilin was called upon yet again as he made a critical save on a one-on-one against sophomore forward Gevork Diarbian, denying a 2-0 lead.
Two minutes later, Marist’s junior midfielder Antek Sienkiel notched the team’s only shot on target, which was easily saved by Providence sophomore goalkeeper Lukas Burns.
The Friars continued to apply pressure and forced three corners within three minutes.
Providence would then add onto their lead in the 67th minute when Wilson scored a scorcher from outside the 18-yard box. His shot soared right into the top right corner and out of the reach of Ilin.
The goal finalized the night for the Red Foxes as the final score ended 2-0 to Providence.
“There were moments when I thought we were good, and others where they were better. I thought, especially in the second half, we picked it up a little bit,” said Viggiano. “It took us a little while to realize that we belong. Once we started believing it, we went toe-to-toe. They’ve got quality and obviously got one [goal] in each half.”
It was a memorable season for head coach Viggiano and the players. They simply could not end that winless record in the NCAA Tournament.
“We wanted to take the game to them. They kind of pride themselves on being the bully, and they want to dictate the game to you. So I thought that our best chance was to play our game and try and keep the ball and defend,” said Viggiano.
There is much to look back on for the players and the coaches, as the team was able to hoist the MAAC Trophy in front of its home crowd.
“We had a great year–one of the best years in the program’s history, if not the best. You lick your wounds a little bit, and the hope is that the bar has been set. The goal is to get back and win games,” said Viggiano.
The Red Foxes may have lost tonight, but Marist had a successful season following the year after their season was lost this past spring.
Edited by Bridget Reilly
Photo Credit: Luke Sassa