Men’s Lacrosse Defeats Sacred Heart, Stofko and Pirreca Make History

Marist men’s lacrosse (3-6, 2-3 MAAC) bounced back with an important win over Sacred Heart (1-8, 1-3 MAAC) by a score of 13-8.

The Red Foxes faced off against the Pioneers for the first time since 2013. With Sacred Heart now a part of the Metro Atlantic American Conference, these teams will be competing against one another far more often. 

Marist was desperate for a win, as they did not want to fall to 1-3 in conference play early on in the season.

“I am just super proud of my guys. It’s been a long couple weeks here where we have had some really tough out of conference teams as well as in conference games.” said head coach Keegan Wilkinson. “To see the guys step up under the lights in Tenney against a new opponent was something special.”

Marist graduate defender Kyle Stofko made history tonight, as he is now one of four active players with 100 caused turnovers in his career.

“It definitely means a lot to me. I think anyone that achieves statistics like that always loves those things,” Stofko said. “Any great competitor wants to win and I just want to get a ring, that is why I came back to play with the guys around me.”

Graduate student attackmen JoJo Pirreca came into today’s game with 99 career goals, and he notched his 100th goal only four minutes into the game to give his team a 1-0 lead.

“I’ve been playing lacrosse my whole life, so coming into a program like this and having success is a testament to the players as well,” Pirreca said. “I am glad the coaches put me into a position to succeed.”

That lead didn’t last for long, as junior attackmen Jake Garb of Sacred Heart would sneak one past the Marist goaltender to tie the game at one. Marist responded when sophomore attackmen Jake Deacy ripped one past the Pioneer goalie, giving Marist a 2-1 lead in the first.

A back-and-forth affair took shape as senior attackmen Carson Spooner and senior attackmen Skyler Wilde gave Sacred Heart team a 3-2 lead. Marist responded again, with the Pirreca-to- Deacy connection tying the game at three apiece, with Deacy netting his second score of the first quarter.

“I love my big lefties,” Pirreca said. “I am always looking for them over the middle when the defense doubles me and that is what happened tonight.”

In the second quarter, junior attackmen Sal Muccio started the scoring to give the Pioneers a 4-3 lead. Senior midfielder Hunter Embury would not let that lead last long as he earned his seventh score of the season, tying the game at 4. 

Pirreca broke the tie and landed his second goal of the game off an assist from graduate student midfielder James Lyons; the assist was Lyons’ second of the game, and it put Marist back up 5-4. Wilde would silence the Red Fox faithful with a goal from Muccio with nine minutes remaining in the quarter, tying things up yet again.

Marist would dominate the latter half of the second quarter with a goal from Pirreca, two goals from Lyons and a score from senior defensive midfielder Keenan DeRaeve, staking the Red Foxes out to a 9-5 lead to end the first half.

Sacred Heart needed to come out with a bang in the second half and they did just that as junior attackmen Morgan O’Reilly cut the lead down to three goals, 9-6. Junior midfielder Joshua Balcarcel and Hunter Embury responded and gave Marist a five-goal lead, 11-6.

Garb would net his second of the game, cutting the lead back to four for Marist. Sophomore midfielder Sam Ferrell then put his defender on skates to put Marist back up five, 12-7. There would not be a goal for almost the length of the quarter until Garb and Wilde tried to help their team get back into the game with back-to-back goals, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Graduate student attackmen Jamison Embury would collect his 100th career collegiate point on an empty netter to end the game.

The goalie matchup was poised to be a good one. Sacred Heart’s junior goalie Alex Pazienza ranks third in the conference in saves per game with 13.68 and fourth in the conference in save percentage with .524 percent. Marist sophomore goalie Noble Smith has been solid for his team this season with 10.25 saves per game and a .477 save percentage. Pazienza had 12 saves today and Smith finished with 10 saves in tonight’s contest.

“I am really proud of Noble Smith, I thought he had a heck of a game tonight,” Wilkinson said. “He is a guy that is a fierce competitor. He is one of the guys who is the last guys on the field everyday of practice. So to see Noble have a great night was really special.”

The Marist defense was fueled by nine caused turnovers tonight. Senior defenseman Ryan McDaniel, graduate student long stick midfielder Anthony Fillipeti and Pirreca all had two caused turnovers.

The Red Foxes’ next opponent will be the team they lost the 2022 MAAC Semi-Finals to, the Manhattan Jaspers. The game will be played in Riverdale, New York on Saturday, April 1 at noon. Manhattan currently ranks at the top of the MAAC conference.

Edited by Luke Sassa

Photo Credit: Jonathan Kinane

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