Looking to get off of the schneid as they returned home from a trying road trip, men’s soccer only added to their list of woes as they collapsed down the stretch, leading to a gut-wrenching 2-1 loss to the Siena Saints.
Coming into the match on a two-game slide, which saw them suffer heartbreaking one-goal losses to Iona and Quinnipiac, the Red Foxes (5-5-1 overall, 1-3 conference) faced a couple of daunting hurdles right from the jump. Sophomore forward Richard Morel, the team leader in goals scored, was missing from the lineup as a result of the potentially season-ending knee injury he suffered in the previous match against Quinnipiac, as was junior left wing Jared Juleau, the team leader in assists, who was suspended for tonight’s game due to racking up too many yellow cards.
Siena (6-3-3 overall, 2-0-2 conference) came into the night having tied their previous two matches in scoreless affairs against Manhattan and Canisius. The objective for both sides was clear: find a way to rev up the offense, with Marist needing to do so despite being short handed without Juleau and especially Morel, a player who head coach Matt Viggiano described as “the heart and soul of the team.”
“We’re banged up, we’re tired, we’re down a bunch of guys, but you’ve got to see it out,” said Viggiano.
The first golden opportunity of the game came in the ninth minute when senior midfielder Liam Salmon took the ball inside the box on the right, dribbled toward the interior defender, spun back outward towards his left and found enough space to send off a well-stuck shot toward graduate student goalkeeper Greg Monroe, but Monroe was able to successfully block the shot. He received another opportunity again in the 18th minute when he found himself with the ball in nearly the same exact spot, but he was tripped up by multiple defenders and unable to draw a call from the official.
An audible gasp could be heard escaping from the crowd in the 21st minute when sophomore back Henrik Winkelmann of Siena fired a shot from extremely close range, but graduate student goalkeeper Samuel Ilin was able to deflect the ball out of bounds to his right, leading to an unsuccessful corner kick for the Saints.
Marist finally broke through in the 24th minute, when a foul on Siena led to a penalty kick from graduate student midfielder Jacob Schulman, who successfully elevated the ball just enough toward the right side of the net and snuck it past Monroe to give Marist the 1-0 lead. Schulman, who came into the match 12th on the team in minutes, stepped up in a huge way in notching the third goal of his long-winding Marist career.
It appeared as if Marist was primed to strike again in the 31st minute when Salmon, who possessed the ball in the middle of the box, passed it to the open man on his right, graduate student midfielder Skylar Conway. Conway took a moment to collect the ball, then fired off an uncontested shot from close range toward the upper right corner of the goal, just barely missing to the right.
The next chance for Marist presented itself in the 37th minute when another foul inside the box led to the Red Foxes’s second penalty kick of the half, but this time they couldn’t convert, as senior defender Henrique Cruz send forth a ground ball to the right, which was tipped out of bounds by the outstretched Monroe. Despite the missed opportunity, Marist still led by a goal heading into the half in no small part due to their sturdy defensive performance, and the momentum was clearly on their side.
Action resumed in the second half, with Marist continuing to push the ball up on a consistent basis. The first real chance for a second-half score came in the 52nd minute as graduate student left wing Hugo Guerra drilled a shot from short range in front of the left goal post, but Monroe notched yet another save to keep the deficit at one. The Red Foxes kept up on the attack when Salmon weaved through the defense on the right side and struck the ball with force in the 56th minute, but his shot was deflected out of bounds.
The Saints, on the other hand, couldn’t get much going offensively for the first 75 minutes, with a long-range free kick being headed out of the way in the 60th minute before it even reached the 18. Siena was again denied minutes later when Cruz absorbed a powerful strike to deflect the ball out of harm’s way, causing him to drop to the turf and collect himself before play resumed.
Despite their defensive success for most of the game, it all came crashing down for Marist in the match’s final 15 minutes. The first strike of the day for Siena came in the 76th minute, when sophomore back Thomas Sams assisted sophomore forward Thomas Storodegard for his team-leading fifth goal of the season on a shot that was deposited into the lower left side of the goal.
The Saints struck again just a minute later, as freshman back Miguel Plaza fired a bouncing ground ball shot out from medium range on the right side, resulting in a roller which stunningly bounced right over Ilin, who was sprawled out, and into the net for the go-ahead score. The goal, Plaza’s first for Siena, capped an almost inexplicable collapse for Marist, who saw their game-long defensive effort go to waste in the blink of an eye. The pair of goals especially stung knowing Cruz had missed a crucial penalty kick earlier in the match,
“We should’ve been up 2-0, and we didn’t get the second [goal],” said Viggiano. “I just think everything piled up on us. Unfortunately we didn’t see the game out, we threw away points.”
Marist will look to get their season back on track when they take on Manhattan on the road next Saturday at 3 p.m.
Photo from Kira Crutcher
Edited by Ricardo Martinez-Paz