UPDATE: With a win and Mount St. Mary’s losing 3-0 to Quinnipiac, Iona’s 4-1 loss to Fairfield, and Manhattan 2-2 draw against St. Peter’s, Marist women’s soccer has clinched the final spot in the MAAC Tournament. The Red Foxes will play Niagara in Western New York on Sunday.
On a day where they needed to take care of their own business, the Marist Women’s Soccer Team went on and delivered a convincing performance. The Red Foxes got an early goal and held on for an important 1-0 victory over Niagara on Wednesday afternoon at Tenney Stadium.
“Being able to come in and get a result shows a lot of character,” Marist Head Coach Brittany Kolmel said.
“This was a huge win for us, we have to wait to see how other teams do, but hopefully, we find a spot in the playoffs,” junior forward Bridget Dudziec said.
Marist came out in attack mode, a clear switch from their approach against Rider last Saturday. The Red Foxes were controlling possession and creating quality chances from the start. In the 10th minute, senior defender Samantha Sturno had a cross that found the head of Nicole Colantuono. The fifth-year forward placed a header to the bottom corner that appeared to cross the line, but the referee said no goal.
“We knew what we had to do, and we hyped each other up,” Dudziec said. “We wanted to come out strong.”
“It was simple, make sure you leave this field with no regrets,” Kolmel said. “It was about 90 minutes, and everyone being in it together.”
Graduate student goalkeeper Natalie Kelchner was excellent for the Red Foxes in the first half as she made timely saves. She had two important saves in the half, one of them against senior midfielder Emily Hähnlel in the 4th minute, and the other chance coming from junior forward Emma Bough in the 14th minute. Kelchner finished the opening 45 minutes with four saves.
Marist continued to push for the opening goal, and they got what they were looking for in the 23rd minute. Junior midfielder Amanda Caldarelli played in a left-footed cross that found the head of Dudziec. The forward fired a header to the far post past Niagara freshman goalkeeper Agnes Stenlund to open the scoring. The goal was impressive, as Niagara has seven shutouts this season. Marist outshot Niagara 13-7 in the first half, and the offense looked much better than against Rider. The Red Foxes entered the half leading 1-0.
“Communication is key for us, from the beginning of the season to now, we have learned each other more, and we have been showing it on the field,” Dudziec said.
“All week, we focused on the buildup,” Kolmel said. “We knew there was going to be space behind their backline.”
The second half was a defensive battle that saw minimal chances for both teams. Marist sophomore defenders Grace Hennig and Bella Lazzaro were excellent for the Red Foxes, as they were able to shut down the Purple Eagles’ attackers. Kelchner was not tested in the second half, as the majority of her six saves came in the first half.
Towards the end of the game, Marist pushed for a second goal, as senior forward Brooke Cergol had a shot saved by Stenlund in the 72nd minute. Junior forward Grace DiVincenzo would create a chance in the 77th minute that was saved. The Red Foxes were content to play the game out and rely on their defense. Marist dominated the offensive statistics in the game, as they outshot Niagara 20-12 and 8-6 with shots on goal. The Red Foxes remained strong and held on for an important 1-0 win.
“We know if we go through, we have to play them again,” Kolmel said. “We should be able to gain confidence heading into that game and be a little sharper.”
Marist snaps a two-game losing streak and finishes the regular season 5-6-5 and 3-5-2 in conference play. The victory has playoff implications, as the Red Foxes took care of business and now wait for other results. Marist needs Fairfield and Manhattan to win or tie on Wednesday, and if those happen, they will play Niagara on Sunday as the sixth seed.
Quinnipiac earned a 3-0 win over Mount St. Mary’s that just went final, which leaves the hope of Marist returning to the postseason in the hands of Fairfield and Manhattan. The Stags take on the Iona Gaels and the Jaspers play the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, with both matches set to kick off at 7:00 P.M.
“We are really positive, and we are waiting for the results,” Dudziec said.
“I told the team, this is a waiting game, but ultimately we have to be proud that we took care of our part and got the job done,” Kolmel said.
The Red Foxes will be closely watching the other MAAC games tonight and hoping that their season is not over.
Edited by Christian De Block
Photos from Marist Athletics