Still seeking their first win of the season, Marist mens lacrosse came up just short, falling to Bellarmine 13-10. The loss was a painful one for the Red Foxes, as they blew a four-goal lead and surrendered the decisive three scores in the final two-and-a-half minutes of play.
Marist (0-4) entered Sunday losers of their first three games this season, most recently falling to #15 ranked Jacksonville 13-5. Bellarmine (3-1) came into the day having won two of their first three on the young season, including a 14-4 win over Canisius in their most recent game.
Bellarmine opened the scoring less than two minutes into play. Junior midfielder Pat Anderson ran up the left side toward the net, finding junior attack Kyle Playsted behind the goal. From there, Playsted relayed the ball to junior attack Christian Della Rocco on the right side, who threaded it past sophomore Marist goalie Noble Smith for the day’s first score.
Playsted racked up his second assist of the day by setting up sophomore midfield Justin Wescoat for a score three minutes later. Wescoat received the ball in the middle while lined up perfectly, and he fired a strong shot from a good distance out to put Bellarmine up by two.
Graduate student attack Jamison Embury cut the deficit in half with just over eight minutes remaining in the first quarter, firing a shot from the left side that took a friendly bounce off of the right goalpost and into the net. Smith held up his end of the bargain just moments later, making a close-range save on a shot from Playsted.
With six minutes left in the first frame, Marist tied it up on a goal from sophomore attack Jake Deacy. Graduate student attack Jojo Pirreca assisted him on the left side by passing the ball back, setting up Deacy to make a strong shot and even the score at two apiece.
Marist took the lead just over two minutes before the quarter’s conclusion, with Pirreca notching a score of his own. Junior attack Joshua Barcarcel had the assist before Pirreca finished the job, firing off a low shot from the left side that snuck past senior Bellarmine goalie JC Higginbotham.
The second quarter began with fireworks, with one of the flashiest plays of the day unfolding. Senior Marist defender Ryan McDaniel catalyzed the proceedings, scooping up a loose ball and striding upfield largely unguarded. As he neared the goal, he looked to his right before assisting Jamison Embury on the left side directly in front of the net, pushing the Marist lead to 4-2.
“I think a huge credit goes to a guy like Ryan McDaniel, in the middle of the field, he created a lot of those opportunities,” head coach Keegan Wilkinson said.
Smith made another save just seconds later to preserve the two-goal lead. Della Rocco wrapped around the left side of the goal and unleashed a high shot, but Smith was up to the task, plucking the ball out of the air.
The Red Foxes continued to build on their lead with 11:30 remaining in the half. Sophomore midfielder Sam Ferrel moved backward just far enough to pull a slick twist move, spinning around and hurling a laser-like shot that gave Marist a 5-2 lead. Della Rocco drew Bellarmine closer half a minute later with a savvy medium-range shot of his own to bring the score to 5-3.
Jamison Embury set the crowd on fire and restored the Marist lead to three goals when he caught Higginbotham napping. Noticing the goalie was out of position, he leaped into the air and launched the ball into the goal to make it a 6-3 Marist lead.
The back-and-forth excitement continued with under eight minutes remaining in the half when junior Bellarmine midfielder Denton MacDonald emerged from a fast-moving pack on the left side to assist Playsted, narrowing the Marist lead to 6-4. The Red Foxes returned the favor again with just under five minutes left when graduate student midfielder James Lyons twisted and uncorked a successful shot to make it 7-4.
Pirreca kept up the attack a minute and a half later, bobbing and weaving his way out of the middle pack toward the left side before assisting Deacy on an emphatic goal to make it 8-4. The four-goal lead would be the largest of the day for Marist and it only lasted for mere moments before Bellarmine answered, with Della Rocco doing the honors once again to make it 8-5 heading into the half.
Bellarmine opened the second half on the comeback trail, with junior midfielder Lukas Sinon showing off his agility on the left side and finding paydirt to bring the Knights within two with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. They continued their comeback effort three minutes later, emerging from a scrum at midfield with the ball; the possession ended with Jesse Roth assisting Playsted for a score.
Playsted continued his phenomenal effort and tied the game up at 8 all on his own, cascading around the back of the goal toward the left side before turning around on a dime and launching a breathtakingly precise shot into the upper left part of the net.
Marist quenched their scoring drought immediately to start the fourth quarter, with Jamison Embury netting his fourth score of the day just twelve seconds in. Embury found himself all alone in front of the net with Higginbotham, and he ultimately utilized his twitchiness to sneak the ball by him.
“I thought Jamison did a really good job of stepping up, a lot of it was in transition honestly,” Wilkinson said.
Bellarmine wouldn’t stay down for long, with Wescoat notching his fourth score of the season with 11 left to play on a close shot from the left side. The Knights then retook the lead with 7 minutes remaining, with Anderson assisting Della Rocco on a close-range shot.
Jamison Embury saved the day yet again with just under six minutes remaining, breaking free over the middle and receiving a long assist while on the run from Deacy, who was on the right side. From there, Embury finished the job for the fifth time on the day, tying the score at 10 and causing Tenney Stadium to erupt.
The Knights retook the lead for good with two and a half minutes remaining on a pair of demoralizing plays for the Red Foxes. Sinon, who was stationed right in front of the goal, managed to slip the ball right in between Smith’s legs for the first of the two goals.
The onslaught continued 13 seconds later when sophomore face-off man Cole Messick scored on a fast-break goal. Senior midfielder Benny O’Rourk sealed the deal with 35 seconds left, completing a late-game trifecta of scores for the Knights and making the score 13-10.
“We had a lead at halftime, so it’s a learning experience for our guys in that regard,” Wilkinson said. “To close games out, we need to make more plays.”
The Red Foxes will look to right the ship when they travel to Lewisburg, PA to take on Bucknell next Saturday at noon.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Jonathan Kinane