The sun was shining at Tenney Stadium as the Marist women’s lacrosse team took on the three-time MAAC champions of Fairfield University. The Red Foxes started strong but ultimately lost to the Stags by a score of 20-12.
Prior to the start of the game, Marist honored their senior class of 2022, which includes Sheridan DeVito, Melissa Bucher, Riley Wagner, Alex Di Chiara, Jill Henson, Chloe Monroe, and Gaby Orlando.
“This senior class has a lot to do with the growth of this team,” head coach Jess Wilkinson said of those honored. “I think maturity wise, they have done a really good job.”
Marist started with their foot on the gas as freshman midfielder Chloe Birkhead stepped on the line for the draw and won it against Fairfield’s Nicollette LaVista, who is known around the conference as one of the best draw specialists. Marist makes their way down the field and works it around once before junior attacker Kelly Trotta crease rolled from the left to take the early lead 22 seconds into the game.
Birkhead won the next draw and Di Chiara was saved on Marist’s next shot. The Stags made their way over the restraining line and settled their offense. Their first shot hit the post, but they secured the backup behind the net to keep possession. Fairfield tried to set up a play on the right side of Orlando’s net, but a miscommunication led to the Stags passing the ball to the left of Orlando, where no players were.
The battle for that ground ball went to Fairfield and scored with 13 seconds left on the shot clock to tie the game at one.
Birkhead won the next draw and the ball made its way to Wagner, who recorded her first start today. She found senior midfielder Melissa Bucher wide open at the top of the crease, but her shot sailed wide. Wagner got the backup, effectively beating her defender who stumbled as she tried to keep up with Wagner. After missing the shot again and winning the backup ball, Di Chiara found junior Kerri Gutenberger wide open as the Stags were not paying attention, and put the ball on the top shelf to overtake the lead.
Marist elected to move the offense through X behind the net on the next set, where junior attacker Kelly Trotta was. She dodged her defender and rolled the crease and found the back of the net. After winning the next draw, Bucher found Gutenberger again as she cut from the elbow through the eight-meter and scored to put the Red Foxes up 4-1.
Feeling the pressure, Fairfield called a timeout. Once they returned, they picked up the intensity a bit as senior attacker Ellie Grefenstette scored for the Stags and brought the disparity back to two.
Fairfield’s next offensive set was broken up by junior defender Camryn Stoner, who took the ball to offense all by herself. Marist couldn’t connect on offense and Fairfield went the other way. As the shot clock expired, Orlando made a huge save down low. Marist transitioned to attack where Gutenberger found sophomore midfielder Hannah Spease cutting from the elbow to make it 5-2.
“I think it was really awesome to see both sides of the field really thriving. Attack putting it away and defense coming up big in those stops,” Orlando said of the first quarter. “I think that has been something that we’ve been working to piece together.”
Fairfield’s slow start in the first quarter was quickly over with from this point forward. They changed their goalie from junior Casey Collins to senior Olivia Conquest–the same goalie in net for the Stags a year ago in the MAAC quarterfinal where the Stags won in overtime against Marist, and cards and other penalties went in their favor. There were multiple times throughout the second quarter that Wilkinson wanted to speak with the officials about their calls.
Still, a man up, Fairfield tried to score but was unable to. Marist carried the ball over the restraining line but couldn’t find anything. Now even, Fairfield went back on offense, they got another call in their favor. Spease was given a yellow card, and fans all around Tenney were vocalizing their displeasure. Orlando made a huge save and Fairfield secured the backup. There was a foul called behind the net that fans felt was explicitly clear that it was against the Stags. After discussion from the officials, Fairfield kept possession, which caused massive boos from the crowd. Orlando made another big save, which gave fans a bit of solace.
“We call those uncontrollables,” Orlando said of the calls from the officials today. “There’s really nothing we can do about it, we just try to block them out and look up to the next play.”
Orlando recorded 11 saves on the day, eight of them in the first two quarters.
The second half of the game was all Fairfield, as they went on a 10-1 run in the third quarter. They were dominant on the draw, on the attack, and most importantly, in the net. Fairfield was strong on their ride forcing Marist to go 15-for-22 on their clears. Trotta recorded the only goal for Marist in the third quarter after she beat her defender up top. The score going into the final quarter was 19-9 in favor of the Stags, which initiated a running clock.
“We can’t have those,” Wilkinson said of the turnovers in the second half. “There were times where we just passed the ball to Fairfield. We need to make sure we are taking care of the ball and taking care of possession because it wasn’t necessarily forced turnovers, it was our own turnovers. We should be able to clear very well and we did not today.”
Monore came in during the fourth quarter and registered two saves on the stat sheet for the Red Foxes. Fairfield scored one final goal to bring their total to 20. Marist had some life again, as junior attacker Olivia Arntsen scored off a feed from Di Chiara and Trotta put away her fourth. Gutenberger scored again after dodging through four defenders to make it 12 for Marist, as time wound down.
Marist travels to Riverdale, New York to take on Manhattan College in their next game on Wednesday, April 6 with a start time of 7 p.m.
Edited by Bridget Reilly
Photo Credit: Marist Athletics