The Marist men’s lacrosse team narrowly avoided an embarrassing out-of-conference loss, defeating the winless New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Highlanders by a score of 12-11 in an overtime nail-biter on a beautiful Tuesday night in Poughkeepsie.
The game went back-and-forth all evening long, with the Highlanders going blow for blow with the Red Foxes after taking an 8-6 lead into the halftime break.
NJIT found itself up 11-10 late in the fourth quarter, but in a man-down position against the Marist attack. The Red Foxes were able to capitalize on their advantage, with senior midfielder Hunter Embury scoring the game-tying goal and his second of the night to knot things up with 3:10 left.
Marist got the ball back with 38 seconds left in the game with a chance to take the lead and bring home the win. It got a decent look, but the potential game-winning shot from James Lyons was blocked with under 10 seconds left. That meant bonus lacrosse.
The first possession of overtime belonged to the Highlanders with a chance to end the game, but they could not capitalize as they suffered a crucial turnover giving the ball to Marist with a chance to end it.
Marist had another chance to end it, and this time, Lyons was not going to miss. He split the defenders for the game-winning goal in thrilling fashion, sending his team to 4-7 on the season and perhaps garnering some much-needed momentum.
Forcing turnovers was the name of the game for the Red Foxes as they forced 9 NJIT turnovers, which led to scoring chances on the other end. The standout defenders today were senior long-stick midfielders JT Roselle and Anthony Fillipeti, who swarmed the NJIT offense all night with two caused turnovers each.
“ I am really proud of the defense and of our coaching staff, Dave and JD do an awesome job with those guys. Coming out at the start of the game we put the pressure on them. I think we turned it over the first four or five possessions.” said Head Coach Keegan Wilkinson. “ That went directly to our offense and the energy went with them as well. I am really proud of them.”
Junior attack Kellen Pulera paced the home team with a game-high four goals on the evening, and his fellow senior JoJo Pirecca was not far behind with three scores, adding three assists for a game-high six points.
Anthony Novellano, Marist’s senior shot-stopper made 13 saves on the night, earning the win. His counterpart, Liam Brown, made 21 stops against 33 shots, keeping NJIT in the game.
After a scoreless first five-plus minutes, Pirreca slipped through the Highlander defender as he found his linemate Pulera for the goal giving the Red Foxes the lead 1-0.
It did not take long for the Red Foxes to continue their scoring ways as Lyons found his linemate senior midfielder Jason Intermesoli for the goal, expanding the lead to 2-0 Marist.
While the Red Foxes tried to get some early distance from their winless visitors, the Highlanders would score their first of the game from their freshman attackman Gage Adams, his 10th of the year to make the score 2-1 Red Foxes with five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
On the next possession, NJIT would tie it up with a goal from Sophomore Midfielder Garrett Muscatella off a rebound save from Novellano making it a 2-2 game.
Just as the momentum was in the Highlanders’ favor, Pirreca would change as he scored his 20th and 21st of the season, giving the Red Foxes a 4-2 lead after the opening period.
Marist would start the second quarter right where they left off as Embury would put it by the Highlanders’ goalie to make it a 5-2 lead for the Red Foxes.
Again, NJIT came storming back, with goals of their own from redshirt sophomore attackman Gavyn Wilson, sophomore attackman Arthur Miller, and Wilson tying the game at 5. Marist briefly regained the lead, but it would not last long as sophomore faceoff specialist Isaac Vanzomeren would score his first career goal right off the faceoff and Muscatella would also net one in for the Highlanders giving them their first lead of the night, 7-6.
That lead would expand for the Highlanders as Sophomore Defender Josh Failla would score in transition giving NJIT the 8-6 lead, ending the scoring of the first half.
Coming into the second half Marist had to come out hot and they did, as Pirreca would score his second and third of the game-tying the game at 8.
The tie would not last very long as Muscatella would score his third of the game, beating Novellano and giving his team the 9-8 lead. That lead wouldn’t last long as Pulera would score his third of the game off a feed from Intermesoli tying the game back up at 9.
The Highlanders got the goal they needed to break the tie from Graduate Attackmen Colin Fogerty breaking the deadlock and giving NJIT the 10-9 lead., ending the scoring for the third quarter.
It took six minutes for either team to score but it was Marist who would score as Pulera netted his fourth of the night, tying the game at 10 with nine minutes left.
It seemed like the ball would always end up in Pulera’s stick while the Red Foxes were on offense, especially in the second half.
“First and foremost I want to give a shoutout to my teammates out there, everyone on offense, defense, and goalie everyone played a great game,” said Pulera. “ It was lucky that it fell into my stick at the end but all of the other guys are doing the work and feeding me the rock, I am just happy we got the dub in the end.”
Marist Head Coach Keegan Wilkinson commented on how his team never gave up the whole game.
“I am really proud of my team and am really fortunate we have such a strong culture with guys that are dedicated,” said Wilkinson. “ We need to value every game and every time we win. Today there was a very good presence with the guys tonight.”
Marist is back in action this Saturday, April 16, as they head to Riverdale, NY to face the Manhattan Jaspers. Faceoff is set for noon.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Marist Athletics via Kira Crutcher