After playing two dominant home games, Marist men’s soccer traveled to Spokane, Washington to face Gonzaga University on a wet Thursday night looking to continue their unbeaten start to the season (4-0-1). Unfortunately, the Red Foxes fell short and lost their first game of the season 2-1 to the Bulldogs, who scored the winning goal in final stages of the game.
From kick off, the Bulldogs looked more of an attacking team, advancing the ball into Marist’s defensive third several times in the first few minutes. Gonzaga took the first chance of the game as senior forward Demitrius Kigeya, the Bulldogs leading point-scorer forced graduate goalkeeper Sam Ilin– named MAAC Defensive Player of the Week– to make a save to the bottom left of the net.
The first fifteen minutes were marked by frequent possession changes and failure to capitalize off promising build up play. One such opportunity came as senior midfielder Bernardo Gracindo dribbled down the touchline before crossing the ball into the 18-yard-box, which was punched away by Gonzaga redshirt senior goalkeeper Johan Garigbay, thus starting a counter attack for the Bulldogs which quickly was intercepted as the ball entered Ilin’s box.
Despite switching their formation to add in a new defender, Gonzaga had all of their players back for a Marist corner in the 10th minute. The change was added after conceding several set pieces this season. Graduate forward Skylar Conway shot after receiving the cross leading Garigbay to make a ground diving save slightly to the bottom left of the net.
Gonzaga’s defense struggled to adapt to their new formation and did not drop as a unit, creating an uneven back line. Junior Marist left-winger Jared Juleau and sophomore forward Richard Morel– named to the College Soccer News Men’s National Team of the Week and earned MAAC Offensive Player of the Week– both tried to use this to their advantage, finding their way past defenders and shooting within the 18-yard-box, although both were off target.
When defending, everyone except Juleau and Morel dropped back and applied pressure, thus making it difficult for Gonzaga to retain possession amid all the traffic. The wide players blocked the option for the ball to be played to Kigeya, who the Bulldogs frequently looked to in this situation.
The midway point of the half found Gonzaga sophomore forward Logan Dorsey getting several opportunities in space. While his first in the 22nd minute went off target, he responded in the 27th minute bringing Ilin out of his goal and sending the ball into the corner of the net despite the tight angle– 1-0 Bulldogs.
Senior defender and captain Henrique Cruz showed his ball striking capability with a free kick in the 32nd minute, with a powerful shot just a foot over the bar. A minute later, Cruz tackled an attacker at the halfway line, dribbling the ball forward before playing a one two with Juleau and scoring into the top center of the goal, giving the Red Foxes a much needed equalizer.
The second half once again changed the tempo; more passes were being made and at a better accuracy, as well as less shots taken.
Juleau took the first shot of the half, which went to the left of the post in the 48th minute. In the 49th minute, a shot by Gonzaga sophomore forward Wylie Trujilio forced Ilin to make a quick save, keeping the score level.
The next 40 minutes only featured three shots from the Red Foxes, Morel had a shot saved by Garigbay in the 55th minute, Juleau’s 61st minute attempt was blocked by Gonzaga’s defense and senior midfielder Liam Salmon took a shot in the 75th minute from far outside of the box that went out right.
Gonzaga turned up the pressure for the last ten minutes of the game, eager for their second win. Ilin had a close call during a clearance that was blocked by an attacker and was not too far off from going into Marist’s goal but instead went out for a goal kick. In the 84th minute sophomore defender Andre Cutler De-Jesus made an important header, clearing the incoming cross from harm’s way.
In the 88th minute, Trujilio sent all of Marist’s defenders to the ground, and hit the ball into the top of the net. While the Bulldogs slid on their knees celebrating, several Marist defenders put their heads into the ground in defeat. A minute later the whistle blew, ending a five-game unbeaten streak.
The Red Foxes will look to head back into the win column Tuesday at 3 p.m. when they travel to Rhode Island to face Bryant University.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Kira Crutcher