Marist men’s lacrosse (7-7, 6-3 MAAC) picked up a victory against Virginia Military Institution (6-9, 3-6 MAAC) on senior day by a score of 18-7, setting a new season-high in goals in the process.
The Red Foxes congratulated 11 seniors on their hard work for the past four years (or more) in which they have been part of the program.
“This one meant a lot to us to win on senior day in front of all of our alums. But more importantly, we talked about all week, you know, the best way for us to represent for our senior class was to come out here and play really hard and physical and set the tone, you know, for what we wanted to do moving forward,” said head coach Keegan Wilkinson.
This game meant even more for Marist as it most likely locked in a playoff game at Tenney Stadium. The Red Foxes currently sit in the 3-seed, which means it would host the 6-seed in the first round of the MAAC Tournament. If Manhattan loses (the current 2-seed) loses against second-to-last-place Wagner, Marist would clinch a bye but lose the chance to host a playoff game with the new seeding structure.
The goaltending matchup today was an interesting one as both goalies played together at Yorktown High School. VMI’s freshman goalie Adam Norris finished with 15 saves on the day.
Reigning MAAC Defensive Player of the Week Daniel O’ Meara finished with 14 saves today for the Red Foxes. Sophomore Bryant Donnelly saw action as well, collecting his first 3 saves of his career in mop-up duty.
“We’re all really proud of Danny. You know, he’s waiting for his turn. We’re fortunate right now that we have a program filled with very good players, you know, and guys have to wait their turn and sometimes it happens at different times,” Wilkinson said.
Marist needed to get off to a hot start and they got just that as sophomore attackman Jake Deacy would score his 19th goal of the year off an assist from graduate student midfielder James Lyons to put Marist up 1-0 early. A minute later senior midfielder Hartley Jordan would pick up his 23rd of the year and sophomore attackmen Luke Rusterucci collected his 52nd point of the season, 2-1 VMI.
Senior midfielder Stephen Bickel would not let the lead last long as he would sneak one past Norris to tie the game at 2. While VMI briefly re-took the lead, goals from Deacy, Bickel, and Hunter Embury sent Marist into the second quarter up 5-3.
In the second, extra man specialist freshman midfielder Vinny Butrico would score his ninth of the season (all on the extra man) giving the Red Foxes a 6-3 lead. Marist extended its run as graduate student attackmen JoJo Pirreca and sophomore midfielder Sam Ferrell, who had been out with a hamstring injury for the past couple of games, joined the goal-scoring party to make it an 8-3 lead.
With two seconds left in the half, VMI would end the drought off a goal from Jordan to cut the lead down to 8-4 at the half.
To open up the second half junior midfielder Joshua Balcarcel and Deacy would score and assist each other on both of their goals giving Marist a 10-4 lead. Four minutes later, Marist would tack on another goal from graduate student midfielder James Lyons and Jamison Embury, 12-4 Marist lead. Junior midfielder AJ Stamos would end the 12-minute VMI goal drought cutting the Marist lead to 12-5.
In the final quarter of play, Marist tacked on a few more goals from senior attackmen Kellen Pulera, Deacy (his fourth of the game), Lyons, and senior midfielder Micheal Bowler, it was fitting that his first career goal would be on senior day.
Marist’s defense played one of its best all-around games as multiple Red Foxes had their name on the caused turnover statistic sheet. Notably, sophomore short stick defensive midfielder Ryan Jones had three on the day. On the day when they set a season-high for goals scored, the Red Foxes also allowed the fewest number of goals against in 2023.
“We had a great week of practice. We have been talking all year long about peaking at the right time,” said O’Meara. “The defense is giving me shots I want to see and it was lockdown today from them.”
The faceoff matchup was a good one as sophomore Dylan Bedell, who is sixth in the MAAC in faceoff percentage, went 12 out of 20 for the Red Foxes. Freshman Jack Rodgers of VMI, who is sixth in the MAAC in faceoff percentage went 8 out of 18 for the Cadets.
“Yeah, but Dylan has been fantastic. You know, and you look at that right now is kind of a two-headed monster and we’ve been fortunate that Fermo has given us a lot of as well,” said Wilkinson.
Marist will have to wait for the rest of the conference matchups to finish up today to know who it will be facing on Apr. 29.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Jonathan Kinane