Late game drama helped the Marist Red Foxes beat the Siena Saints 11-10 under the lights in Poughkeepsie. Marist gained their first home win and first MAAC win of the season with Saturday’s win.
With 30 seconds left to play, Marist got the game-winner from Jojo Pirreca, who capped a hat-trick to give Marist a one-goal lead as the Red Fox faithful erupted. Siena would have a chance to score with fifteen seconds left, but goalie Anthony Novellano denied Siena’s Jack Kiernan to end the game in a hard close battle.
Both Marist and Siena have had strong goalie play all year. Both goalkeepers rank in the top of the NCAA in save percentage and saves per game. Marist goalkeeper senior Anthony Novellano ranked fourth in the country in saves per game, while Siena senior goalkeeper Chris Yanchoris also ranked in the top 20 in the NCAA for saves percentage.
Goalie play did not disappoint as both keepers would put up double digits saves in the contest, with Novellano turning away 14 shots and Siena’s Yanchoris piling up 16 saves.
“Novellano has been a guy who’s been spectacular all season, even in the beginning of the season, he was making 18, 19, 20 saves a game,” said Wilkinson. “He’s been a guy who waited his turn. You look at the goaltending position and other positions on the field, one guy plays primarily, and he’s stuck with it and worked his butt off, and I think we have been seeing that hard work every game this season.”
Marist got on the board early with two goals from senior midfielder James Lyons to give Marist an early 2-0 lead in the first quarter. Marist got that burst of energy they had been looking for all season.
Siena bounced back with three straight goals of their own from Freshman Attackmen Pratt Reynolds, graduate student attackman Jack Kiernan, and senior midfielder Christian Watts. The Saints ended the first quarter leading 3-2 against the Red Foxes.
Just as Siena had the momentum, sophomore midfielder Joshua Balcarcel scored his third goal of the season as Marist tried to get back into the game trailing 4-3. Siena did not give Marist any hope as Senior Midfielder Tyler Minniti scored, making it a 5-3 Saints lead.
Marist would not go away as Lyons would score another goal, shrinking the Siena lead down to one with 5 minutes remaining in the first half. That would not be the last of the Red Fox scoring as Freshman Midfielder Ryan Jones would score his first, tying the game.
The tie would not last for long, as the next possession Kieran scored his second of the game with 30 seconds left in the half to put the Saints back in front.
Marist would get the ball back with 14 seconds left and a timeout from Head coach Keegan Wilkinson in their favor. Marist would not disappoint as Lyons would score his fourth of the game with six seconds left in the first half.
Lyons had his way all game with open chances, and he was capitalizing on the open shots.
“ We have been practicing all week for these moments, coach Wilks really gave us some good sets, and we were watching film, which is where all of these open shots came from. My teammates really allowed me to get these shots, so shout out to them,” said Lyons.
It would take almost nine minutes, but senior attackmen JoJo Pirreca would give Marist their first lead since halfway through the first quarter at 7-6. Again, when it seemed like Marist gained the momentum, Kieran scored his third of the game, and his linemate senior attackman Luke Julien would score his first of the game, making it an 8-7 Saints lead to end the scoring for the third quarter.
Two minutes into the fourth quarter Pirreca would score a much-needed goal for the Red Foxes, making it an 8-8 game. Not too long after that, a huge goal from lefty junior attackman Kellen Pulera put one in the back of the net for the Red Foxes, giving them a 9-8 lead.
You know the drill by now, right as one team scored, the other came right back. Siena junior faceoff specialist Dylan Pape scored his first collegiate goal tying the game at nine. The next possession would prove to be a big one as Menniti scored his second of the game making it a one-goal lead for the Saints, 10-9, draining all the energy out of the Red Fox faithful.
Marist looked to tie the game at ten with a huge extra-man opportunity with five minutes left in the game as Yanchoris would shut down that opportunity leaving the extra-man opportunity scoreless for the Red Foxes. That would not matter as the Red Foxes scored a huge goal from Pullera on a beautiful assist from Pirreca with under two minutes left of play.
The stage was set for Pirreca’s game-winner that delivered Marist’s first MAAC win of the season.
Head coach Keegan Wilkinson was very pleased with his team’s effort today in a hard-fought battle against the Saints.
“We are really pleased with the guys’ efforts tonight. Coming out in Tenney under the lights is something that we really take a lot of pride in,” said Wilkinson. “ Having a lot of alumni back is something that we really rallied around, we wanted to make sure we played hard for the guys that had come before these guys and set the standard of what Marist lacrosse is supposed to look like.”
Marist is back in action next Saturday at 10 a.m. against Quinnipiac on ESPNU.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Marist Athletics