The last time the Marist Men’s Lacrosse team played in a game that counted towards their record it was April 30, 2021. The contest took place in the MAAC tournament Quarterfinal round against the four seed Canisius Golden Griffins, where they went on to lose 14-13 in a hard-fought battle.
The Red Foxes played in only four total games last season, including the MAAC tournament, due to a shortened schedule. Originally there were ten regular-season games scheduled, but the Red Foxes wound up only playing in three of them, winning each contest.
The team experienced numerous difficulties along the way, including a 45-day hiatus without a single game. Despite this, they still managed to beat teams including Detroit Mercy, Quinnipiac, and Manhattan.
Looking ahead to this year, the Red Foxes are set to retain most of their core pieces from last season on both sides of the field.
On offense, JoJo Pirreca returns for his senior year. The attackman will look to pick up where he left off last season, where he notched eight goals, five assists, thirteen points, and placed top three in all categories on the team. His junior year accolades include being selected to the Preseason All-MAAC team and the MAAC All-Academic Team.
Also returning on offense is senior attackman Jamison Embury and senior midfielder Hunter Embury. The brothers impressed on the field, garnering national recognition on Sports Center’s Top Ten for one of their more impressive plays. The brothers were ranked third on the segment when Jamison found Hunter open on the crease, passing to him behind the back. Hunter hopes that such moments will be a sign of things to come.
“Something we talk about a lot, but our goal as a team is to get back to the MAAC Championship game to win it,” said Hunter Embury. “We want to be the best team we can be, not focusing on other people, focusing on ourselves.”
Midfielder James Lyons returns to the team after appearing in four games in the past two seasons due to Covid-19 and other circumstances. He’ll be wearing number 34 this season, a jersey number awarded to an athlete who demonstrates high qualities of leadership and determination in honor of the late Eddie Combs.
“It means a lot and I am honored to wear it,” said Lyons. “It means a lot to this program. I’ve been working hard every single day to keep Eddie’s legacy going.”
With Joe Tierney graduating, look for players such as Vito Musso and Tyler Ammirato to step into increased roles this season. Another player who figures to contribute is midfielder Jason Intermesoli, a redshirt senior who has shown flashes. Starting all four games a season ago, he tallied up three goals and five assists.
The biggest question on offense is at the Faceoff X, as the Red Foxes are now without Andrew Evans in addition to Peyton Smith, who is now playing in the PLL. There are three candidates for the position: freshman Dylan Bedell, sophomore John Kelly, and junior Matt Fermo, a transfer from Pace University. All three can expect to compete in an open competition at the X.
On defense, the team gets back most of their starters from a year ago. Senior long-stick midfielder JT Roselle looks to continue his outstanding play from last year when he totaled eight ground balls, six turnovers, and a goal in his four games played. Keenan DeRaeve, a short-stick defensive midfielder, will look to reprise his role as the anchor of the short-stick middies.
Defensemen Kyle Stofko highlights the returners at close, as well as the six-foot-four junior defensemen Kurt Wesner, who will be looking to replicate his lockdown defense from a season ago. Stofko shed some light on what he needs to do if he hopes to repeat his success from last season.
“We have to build off of what we have been able to accomplish, not only last year, [but] even the year before,” said Kyle Stofko. “We were on that same back line too together, just continuously improving our communication with one another. I think that is kind of an overlooked thing. A lot of guys get looked at because of their size and abilities, [but] defensively in lacrosse, communication is important. Sky’s the limit with our crew.”
Sophomore goalie Logan Covey, who stepped up to start all four games in goal last year, recorded forty-nine saves and an impressive .544 save percentage while anchoring the defense. Covey was named All-MAAC First Team, MAAC Defensive Player of the week, and two-time MAAC Rookie of the week.
While Covey did an impressive job, senior goalie Anthony Novellano is set to return to the team after not playing last year. It’s anyone’s guess as to who will be starting in goal in the opener against Rutgers, but it will be an interesting development to watch.
The coaching staff will look familiar this season, with the exception of newcomer JD Colarusso, a former PLL goalie for the Atlas Lacrosse Club. Colarusso will seek to use his professional experience at the collegiate level to help Marist win the MAAC tournament.
Head coach Keegan Wilkinson, who has been named MAAC Coach of the Year on three occasions (2013, 2015, 2019), will attempt to lead his team to his third MAAC Championship.
“Our expectations are the same every year, which is to come out and compete to the best of our abilities and to hopefully put us in a position to compete for a conference championship,” said Wilkinson. “It’s ultimately the goal to reach the NCAA tournament and represent the college and our program to the highest standard that we can.”
Wilkinson’s expectations ought to be high, as the Red Foxes were ranked second in the MAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Long-stick midfielder JT Roselle was named to the All-MAAC Preseason team along with attackman Jamison Embury.
This season will require the team to make adjustments, as it will be much different than last year’s shortened Covid season. The team has fourteen scheduled games this season along with a strong non-conference schedule that features the likes of Rutgers, Delaware, Richmond, and Princeton.
Overall, the Red Foxes have a lot of key pieces returning on both sides of the ball. The future is bright for this team. And with everything these players have gone through, it only adds fuel to the fire. As a result, I believe the Red Foxes will pick up where they left off and be an exciting team to watch this season. This team is talented; imagine what they can do with a normal schedule.
The team will have their much-anticipated, first game of the season on the road against Rutgers on February 9 at 3 p.m.
Edited by Luke Sassa and Connor Kurpat
Image from Marist Athletics