Offensive Struggles Doom Water Polo in MAAC Championship Semifinal Loss to LIU

After a highly successful regular season in which the Marist water polo team sported a 24-13 record (11-4 in the MAAC) and went on a nine-game winning streak from late March into mid-April, the Red Foxes entered their MAAC championship semifinal matchup against Long Island University coming off of two tough losses. This included a two-goal loss to LIU just a week prior, setting up a fascinating rematch with everything on the line.

LIU, who went 24-6 (13-2 in the MAAC) during the regular season, would go on to win much more comfortably this time around, dominating defensively en route to a 13-7 victory over the Red Foxes. The win sent LIU to the MAAC final, while Marist suffered a third-consecutive loss on their way to the consolation game.

The Sharks got the proceedings underway just over a minute into the action when sophomore attack Paola Dominguez scored on a strong shot from the middle of the pool out beyond the green line. Marist countered less than two minutes later when senior utility Myriam Lizzotte successfully attempted a shot from only a few yards away from the net, as she managed to sneak it past the goalie.

LIU then rattled off three consecutive scores before Marist called a timeout with about two minutes left in the first period. This included two goals by junior driver Jessica Dean, one of which came off a penalty shot, as well as a soft, high arcing short-range goal from sophomore attack Elena Camarena.

Just as integral to LIU’s early success was junior goalkeeper Julia Zebak, who notched three saves in the first period to help the Sharks race out to a 4-1 lead after one. Marist goalkeeper Marina Hyham struggled in contrast, allowing four of five shot attempts into the back of the net during the first.

The second period continued where the first one left off, as junior LIU attacker Kate Hinrichs snuck the ball past Hyham directly in front of the left goalpost. Hyham did however redeem herself a minute later, making a diving save by outstretching her hands on a Dominguez shot attempt from much further out. 

LIU missed another opportunity to extend their lead with five minutes left in the period when Dean clanged a long-range shot off of the crossbar. They would eventually come through with less than a minute left before the half, when Dean assisted Camarena on her second goal to push the lead to 6-1 going into the break.

The Red Fox offense just never seemed to get going in the first half, with sloppy execution in front of the goal dooming Marist from the start. They would finally get off the schneid over halfway through the third period when junior center India Alter collected a deflected shot and deposited it into the back of the goal, cutting the lead to 6-2. 

Less than a minute later, Marist inched even closer when senior utility Viktoria Orlova found paydirt, but this was canceled out only seconds later when Camarena scored for LIU on a beautiful shot from the left side, which she perfectly aimed into the top right corner of the net. The lead only continued to grow when Hinrichs notched another goal with just over a minute left in the third period, followed by yet another Camarena score with 33 seconds left. 

Marist did manage to score on a shot from junior defender Fallon Burnworth just before the buzzer, but they ultimately faced a daunting 9-4 deficit heading into the final period. Despite this, they came out looking undeterred to start the fourth, as freshman utility Madeline Schultz ricocheted a shot off the surface of the water and into the net from the left side.

Marist threatened yet again when junior utility Shinae Carrington hurled a promising-looking shot from medium range towards the left side of the goal, but Zebak made a last-second save by stabbing at the ball with her right arm. This would prove to be a turning point in the game, as things would begin to unravel defensively for the Red Foxes from this point onward.

LIU padded their lead when Hinrichs assisted Camarena for her fifth goal of the day with six minutes remaining, but Marist immediately responded as Lizzotte netted her second score of the day. At this point, it was clear that both defenses were becoming worn out, and sure enough Dean returned the favor just moments later with a pair of goals to push the LIU lead to 12-6.

With a final score of 13-7, the Red Foxes’ hopes of a MAAC championship were dashed. They will finish out their season tomorrow in Poughkeepsie at 11 a.m. when they face off against La Salle (22-14, 9-7) in the consolation game.

Edited by Bridget Reilly

Photo Credit: Marist Athletics

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