Marist men’s lacrosse is set to face the Quinnipiac Bobcats in the first round of the Metro Atlantic American Conference men’s lacrosse tournament on April 29 at 7 p.m. under the lights at Tenney Stadium.
Quinnipiac had picked up a 14-12 win against the Red Foxes earlier in the season on March 25. Notably, graduate student attackman Jamison Embury collected five points in the game on three goals and two assists. After this loss, Marist won five out of its last six games, outscoring their opponents 80-58 over that span and playing their best lacrosse of the season.
This matchup on paper is one of the better ones throughout the playoff games this weekend. Senior goaltender Daniel O’ Meara, who has started ever since the Red Fox win against Siena, has really hit a second gear for his team; he even won MAAC Defensive Player of the Week two weeks ago for collecting 30 saves in two games for his team.
On the other side of the field, graduate student goaltender Nick Dimuccio, who has just below a .500 save percentage, has been a staple for his team.
“As we look at the goalie matchup, we have two veterans in O’ Meara and Dimuccio from Quinnipiac, drastically different in the amount of experience these guys have,” Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Keegan Wilkinson said. “Their goalie has been starting from day one and Danny stepped in this year as a true senior. It is going to be a great matchup with two really good goalies. That was the difference in the first game, their guys played great and made some really good saves.”
Containing Quinnipiac’s Core Four
The Bobcats offense has been led by four players who have 20 or more goals on the season. Leading the pack with 29 goals on the season is junior attackman Dylan Donnery; senior attackman John Delucia is right behind him with 28 goals on the year.
What does Marist have to do to contain these prolific goal scorers?
“Offensively, that is definitely one of the strengths on their team. Between Jermaine and Tellers in the midfield and Donnery and Delucia at attack.” Wilkinson said. “We have seen some great growth between those guys over the past year, it is going to be a big test for us as it was in the first game. We have to force them to play 6 on 6 lacrosse.”
The Red Fox defense has been stellar since the loss to the Bobcats, allowing 56 total goals in their final six games. Leading the charge has been sophomore defender Aidan McCaffrey, who has 24 total caused turnovers this season.
Many others have also stepped up, with the usual suspects causing turnovers: graduate student defender Kyle Stofko, who has 21 on the season, has been a vocal point of his team all season long. Seniors Ryan McDaniel and Keenan DeRaeve have 13 and 11 caused turnovers, respectively.
Can the Scoring Continue for the Red Foxes?
Marist’s offense has really been clicking, especially in the past six games with 80 goals scored. The attack is led by graduate student attackman JoJo Pirreca, who has 33 goals on the year and Jamison Embury, who has 24 goals this season.
One truly emergent standout who has flown under the radar this year is attackman Jake Deacy. The sophomore is fresh off a four goal game against VMI and ever since the sophomore got the start replacing injured senior Kellen Pulera, he has been a great option for his team in close games.
“In the conference, we have hit 12, 13 goals. I have never had a team here where we have so much scoring from all these different guys,” Wilkinson said. “Our top end has four, five, six guys and then that backend has six to eight guys who have five to twelve points. It is going to be a great atmosphere under the lights at Tenney, which we anticipate.”
The Faceoff X
Marist has had an up and down road at the faceoff x this season, but lately, the Red Foxes have been dominant in that area. The two headed monster of sophomore Dylan Bedell and senior Matt Fermo have been a great one-two punch for the Red Foxes all season long.
On the other side of the field, Quinnipiac’s senior Dimitri George has been dominant since he entered the Bobcat program as a freshman. This season, he has a faceoff win percentage of .548. The tandem of Bedell and Fermo won 15 out of 28 faceoffs against George on March 25th.
“George, it seems like he’s been there forever as well. He is fantastic and has been one of the best guys since he’s got here. It is a big test.” Wilkinson said. “I thought Matt did a fantastic job in the first game in one of his first true starts, battling with a perennial power in our league, in Dimitri George. It is going to be the same style that we have had all year in dealing the hot hand. We expect both of those guys to be ready to play.”
They’ve Been Here Before
The Red Foxes have six starters on today’s team from their 2019 MAAC Championship team. Lacrosse in May is all about experience and who has been there before.
On the Red Fox roster, they have a bunch of experienced players who are looking to bring their second ring to Poughkeepsie. Wilkinson spoke on just how important this will be come playoffs.
“There is no doubt that the experience has been really vital, when you have a first time starter. Both with Noble and Danny. Noble was a massive part of us getting into this situation as well and I don’t think that gets quite enough attention.” Wilkinson said. “To have veterans in front of him, specifically Kyle and Kurt, who have a ton of experience, but also Anthony Fillipetti and Tyler Ammirato at short stick, it has been huge and I am sure it gives him a lot of confidence.”
Marist will look to put on its best all around performance of the season as they try to advance to the MAAC final four and travel to Riverdale, New York to face Manhattan College.
Edited by Luke Sassa and Dan Aulbach
Photo from Jonathan Kinane