As 2022 comes to an end and 2023 begins, Center Field is looking at the year that was through our coverage of Marist Athletics. From retirements to transfers to arrests, here are the stories that defined 2022 in Poughkeepsie.
Feb. 17 – Giorgis Picks up 450th Win
Marist women’s basketball head coach Brian Giorgis was stuck on 449 career victories (at the college level) for nearly a month as the 2021-22 Red Foxes went on their second six-game losing streak of the season from late January into February.
His team finally helped him get over the hump with a 51-41 win over Saint Peter’s at the McCann Center. Characteristically, Marist won the game with its defense, holding the Peacocks to 31 percent from the floor and forcing 29 turnovers.
The vibe around the Marist men’s basketball team could not have been more positive after a 74-56 win over Manhattan at a packed McCann Center in a game that was televised nationally on ESPNU.
The Red Foxes built a commanding lead in the first half and survived a Jaspers comeback attempt, pulling away late to secure their sixth straight win. Jao Ituka and Raheim Sullivan each had 15 points in the victory.
At the time, John Dunne’s team seemed in a great position to make a run at the MAAC Tournament, but that memorable February night would prove to be Marist’s final victory of the 2021-22 season.
Nearing the end of the most trying season of his career, the winningest basketball coach in Marist history announced that he would be stepping aside at the end of the 2022-23 season.
“It’s been an incredible ride, but it’s time,” Giorgis said in a press release from Marist Athletics. “As sad as I am to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I am extremely excited for the future of Marist women’s basketball. Marist could not have made a better choice than Coach Erin Doughty to continue the legacy of Marist women’s basketball.”
Doughty has been a part of the program since Giorgis’s first year in charge, starting as a walk-on and then transitioning to an assistant coach. She was named associate head coach in 2018.
Marist women’s lacrosse goalies coach Kendall Vecchio was placed on administrative leave after being arrested on Mar. 2, the same day as Marist’s game against Long Island University.
Further details on Vecchio would become available in the coming weeks.
Mar. 8-9 – A Day (and Night) to Forget in Atlantic City
Marist basketball’s collective postseason hopes — men’s and women’s — came to an end on the same chilly Tuesday that marked the first round of the MAAC Tournament in Atlantic City.
The women were the first of the teams to see their season end with a depressing 49-29 loss to Saint Peter’s in one of the earlier games of the day. It was a new low in a season defined by offensive ineptitude as the Red Foxes made just 10 field goals and shot 19 percent from the floor.
In the last game of the day, it was the men’s team’s turn to be embarrassed. Marist came into its matchup with Quinnipiac off an 83-52 loss at Niagara and the game against the Bobcats, who were the 11-seed, would also turn into a blowout. The Red Foxes lost 77-52, moving John Dunne’s MAAC Tournament record at Marist to 0-4 and setting the stage for several players to enter the transfer portal.
Former Marist women’s lacrosse goalies coach Kendall Vecchio was arrested on Mar. 2 in connection to a second-degree sexual assault warrant that was issued in Texas on Feb. 17.
The alleged assault occurred on April 10, 2021, presumably when Vecchio was living in the Austin, Texas area, and working as an assistant coach with Lake Travis High School’s boys’ lacrosse team.
Anthony Proia, the Director of Media Communications at Marist said this in a statement to Center Field:
“The arrest relates to an alleged incident that occurred in another state before the beginning of his employment at Marist. As soon as this case came to our attention, we cooperated fully with authorities in their investigation of this matter. We also took immediate steps to place him on administrative leave and bar him from campus while the legal process continues. We have been in contact with our student-athletes to provide supportive resources to them.”
Mar. 23 – Dunne Gets Contract Extension
Despite another early exit from the MAAC Tournament, Marist announced that men’s basketball head coach John Dunne would receive a multi-year contract extension after guiding the Red Foxes to a 14-16 record in 2021-22.
“I am very excited to have my contract extended,” Dunne said in the Marist press release. “Marist is a special place with great people. We have become very competitive and I look forward to taking the next step in building this program.”
To that point in his Marist tenure, Dunne had amassed a 45-67 record in four years in Poughkeepsie. In 2020-21, he oversaw the program’s first winning season since 2007-08 but the failure of his teams to perform in the postseason remained as the cloud over his tenure.
Despite the extension, the program was already in the midst of more uncertainty.
Mar. 23 – Transfer Portal Chaos
On the same day as Dunne’s new contract was announced, Marist men’s basketball had four players — Raheim Sullivan, Ricardo Wright, Braden Bell, and Matt Herasme — in the transfer portal.
The departures began with Sullivan, who averaged 7.7 points per game at Marist after playing at two different junior colleges. Wright, who entered the portal on Mar. 21, was the second player to go and the biggest loss to that point. The sophomore scored 13.6 points per game in 2021-22, garnering a third-team All-MAAC selection.
Bell and Herasme each entered the portal just hours before news of Dunne’s contract became public. Along with Sullivan, they were seniors who elected to use their extra year of eligibility elsewhere.
The number of names in the portal would only continue to grow.
Mar. 29 – Ituka Enters the Portal
Six days later, the news Marist fans were dreading became official: MAAC Rookie of the Year Jao Ituka entered the transfer portal.
Ituka led the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game and earned All-MAAC Second Team honors. He became the sixth Marist men’s player to enter the transfer portal. The women’s team also felt the impact of the portal losing four rotation players — Trey Kennedy, Anabel Ellison, Emma Wax, and Siobhan Boylan — along with Sarah Barcello who sat out 2021-22 after surgery in the offseason.
In the end, the programs combined to lose 12 players to the transfer portal.
Things didn’t immediately click for Keegan Wilkinson’s team to start the 2022 season, but as MAAC play went along the Red Foxes began to find their stride. On senior day at Tenney Stadium, Marist came back to beat Monmouth 9-8 in overtime, winning their fourth consecutive game and clinching a share of the conference with Saint Bonaventure.
With the MAAC Playoffs coming to Poughkeepsie, Marist’s hopes of making it back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019 looked very much alive.
Those hopes were crushed when Marist (the 2-seed) lost to Manhattan in crushing fashion when the Jaspers scored a sudden-death goal in overtime to eliminate the Red Foxes in front of a rowdy crowd at Tenney Stadium.
Marist’s season had its peaks and valleys, having to overcome an early season injury to Jamison Embury and a 1-6 start. The Red Foxes finished 7-8 for their first losing season since 2018.
In the weeks following the end of basketball season, Center Field reached out to every player who transferred out of the men’s program. Jao Ituka, who committed to Wake Forest in late April, and Raheim Sullivan, who would end up at NJIT, were two players who responded.
A common thread: they both spoke on their lack of relationship with the coaching staff.
“The connection I had with the coaching staff wasn’t as strong as I wanted it to be,” Sullivan said about his decision to leave. “So that kind of led up to my decision to go into the portal. I just felt like we didn’t have that bond where I could just go up to his office, you know, and just talk about things on and off the court.”
“There wasn’t a relationship there,” Ituka said of his head coach. “I didn’t feel comfortable speaking to him [Dunne]. You know, he didn’t speak to me. Even when I needed my coach to be there, he wasn’t at times, but that is all in the past now. So, the coaching was a very big part in why I’m leaving and why I left.”
In late May, Center Field published its findings after it was made aware of an incident involving Ituka and another student, Trevor Cooper, in Champagnat Hall during the early hours of May 5.
Center Field obtained the racially charged text messages that Cooper sent regarding Ituka. Once the former Marist basketball star viewed the texts, he got into a physical altercation with Cooper on the second floor of Champagnat.
Center Field was made aware that the texts were not the first instance of racism from Cooper toward Ituka and that a non-contact order was issued between them in the Fall 2021 semester. Both students did not return to Marist for the Fall 2022 semester.
After long-tenured baseball head coach Chris Tracz left to take the same job at Army, Marist hired Lance Ratchford to replace him.
Ratchford was an assistant for Tracz from 2016-2018 before taking the head job at Division III SUNY Cobleskill. He turned a program that went 3-28 the season before his arrival into a back-to-back North Atlantic Conference Western Division winners. He compiled a 60-56 record in his four years in Upstate New York.
Oct. 29 – Parady Notches 150th Win of his Career
A 37-7 drubbing of PFL lightweight Presbyterian handed long-tenured Marist football coach Jim Parady his 150th career win at the helm in Poughkeepsie.
The Red Foxes scored the game’s first 37 points against a Blue Hose team that came in winless in PFL play. The win improved Marist to 3-5 overall and 3-3 in the PFL. The day also saw the program host its fourth annual “Set the Expectation” game to raise awareness of domestic violence.
Despite a massive roster reshuffle following a successful 2021 campaign, Marist men’s soccer came into the 2022 season as prohibitive favorites in the MAAC. With a mix of transfers and freshmen to go along with the returners, Matt Viggiano’s team started the season strong but dropped four consecutive MAAC games after winning their league opener.
The Red Foxes had issues holding leads throughout conference play, either having to settle for frustrating draws or outright losses. A 1-1 draw to Fairfield at home on Oct. 29 sealed Marist’s fate as it made it impossible for the Red Foxes to finish in the top six of the MAAC and secure a spot in the playoffs.
Marist came into its senior day at Tenney Stadium needing a win against Valparaiso to secure a winning conference record and keep hopes alive for a first season above .500 since 2013. Instead, the Red Foxes sustained a 45-24 hammering at the hands of Valparaiso.
Marist would go on to lose to Bucknell the following week. The Red Foxes finished 4-7 overall and 4-4 in the PFL.
Nov. 18-19 – Women’s Basketball Sweeps Dublin Trip
Following a frustrating 0-3 start to Brian Giorgis’s final season, Marist women’s basketball took an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin and won the two games it played as part of the MAAC-ASUN Challenge in Ireland.
The trip was defined by cohesive offensive play as the Red Foxes demonstrated the ball movement that is usually a staple of the motion offense. Marist dispatched Eastern Kentucky 70-57 in the first game and moved past North Florida 61-45 the next day.
After an uncharacteristically bad 2021-22 season, the trip served as a massive momentum boost for the program.
On a fall Friday evening Marist announced that Brittany Kolmel, the women’s soccer coach was stepping down due to personal reasons.
Kolmel posted a record of 10-15-8 in her three-season tenure, including a 7-10-5 mark in MAAC play. The Red Foxes finished the 2022 season 5-7-5 with a 3-5-2 record in the conference. Marist snuck into the MAAC Tournament by winning on the final day of the regular season but suffered a first-round loss to Niagara.
Her tenure was defined by a conservative approach that saw the Red Foxes struggle to score enough goals to win games. In the press release, Marist announced that the search for a replacement was already underway.
While the World Cup was getting into the knockout stages in Qatar, Marist men’s basketball defeated Maine 62-61 at the Basketball Hall of Fame London Showcase.
The Red Foxes picked up their fourth win of the season in a nationally televised game that featured notable ESPN personalities Karl Ravech and Jay Bilas on the call. Marist trailed by six with less than three minutes left, but a 9-2 run helped seal the comeback.
Dunne’s team hasn’t had the best of luck since it returned to the states, as it finds itself on a three-game losing streak since beating the Black Bears.
Well, those are some of the most newsworthy stories from an eventful 2022. With another year in the books, Center Field is looking forward to providing more comprehensive coverage of Marist Athletics in 2023.
Edited by Andrew Hard
Featured Graphic by Jarod Rodriguez