Marist men’s lacrosse (#3 seed) soundly defeated Siena (#4 seed) 12-7 in the MAAC Championship Game on Saturday morning at the Manhattan College campus.
This was Marist’s first MAAC Tournament title since 2019 and their fourth MAAC Tournament title in program history. The Red Foxes now find themselves headed for the NCAA Tournament thanks to a second straight win over Siena on national television this season.
Marist got off to a quick start, as the dangerous lefty sophomore attackman Jake Deacy scored on a wide-open goal to make it 1-0 Marist. It took Siena almost half of the first quarter to score until freshman attackman Travis Fry finally got his team on the board to tie up the game.
On the ensuing possession, graduate student JoJo Pirreca hit a behind-the-back goal right over the Saints goaltender to put Marist up 2-1. Siena needed an answer and they got it from graduate student attackman Zac Schuette, tying the game at two.
In the midst of the first quarter, graduate student defender Kyle Stofko notched the 61st caused turnover of his career, making him the school record holder.
To open up the second quarter, Siena broke the tie with a goal from graduate student midfielder Christian Watts. Marist did not let the Siena lead last long as graduate student attackman Jamison Embury scored on a flame thrower of a shot to bring the score to three apiece.
With about eight minutes left in the half, man-up wizard freshman midfielder Vinny Butrico, junior midfielder Joshua Balcarcel and Jamison Embury all scored, putting Marist up 6-3. Marist kept their goal-scoring going with a score from sophomore Sam Ferrel to end the first half with a 7-3 lead.
Just over a minute into the third quarter, a holding penalty on Deacy gave Siena a man-up opportunity. The Saints failed to capitalize, as the Marist defense stymied their attack and made it difficult to get shots off, with senior goalie Daniel O’Meara also making a couple of skillful saves.
The Saints struggled all day to score in transition, a key hallmark of their offensive identity. They were also hindered by a high number of shots hitting off the pipes, with the batch of near-misses and bad luck contrasting with Marist’s ability to finish off gritty possessions.
Siena finally broke their nearly 20-minute-long scoring drought with under ten minutes left in the third quarter, as Schuette fired in a bouncer from the right side to draw the Saints within three. The comeback effort continued three-and-a-half minutes later when Watts, who was on the left side, assisted Fry across the field for a close-range score, making it 7-5 in Marist’s favor
The Red Foxes halted Siena’s momentum with a long ensuing possession, which graduate student midfielder James Lyons finished off with a do-it-yourself score from close range to put his side back up by three. O’Meara helped the lead stand up later in the quarter, making a shoestring save with two minutes remaining for his tenth of the day.
Marist exploded to open the fourth quarter, with Balcarcel running the length of the field and finishing off his own possession with a twist move and a score. Balcarcel started from behind his own goal and went coast-to-coast to put the Red Foxes up 9-5 just 14 seconds into the frame.
Taking matters into his own hands yet again, Balcarcel notched his third score of the day with just under 12 minutes left in the game, pushing the Marist lead to five. Marist continued adding onto their lead with about eight minutes remaining when senior attackman Kellen Pulera scored a close-range shot that deflected off of the right pipe and into the net.
Pirreca and Jamison Embury sealed the deal with under five minutes left, as the former assisted the latter to give Marist a seemingly-insurmountable seven-goal lead. Graduate student midfielder Rocco Santillo got Siena back on the board a minute later, and Siena graduate student attackman George Rusnak followed it up with a score on a man-up, but these scores were too little, too late for the Saints, who still trailed 12-7.
As the clock bled out, the Red Foxes rushed out onto the field and pandemonium ensued as the reality sunk in that Marist would be heading to the NCAA Tournament.
Coming into the day, one of the major points of emphasis was the faceoff battle since it had the potential to swing the balance of the game. Marist sophomore Dylan Bedell won 10 out of 21 faceoffs against Siena senior faceoff man Dylan Pape.
In between the pipes were two of arguably the hottest goalies in the MAAC. Siena graduate student goalie Chris Yanchoris finished with 10 saves today, while O’Meara was on his game with 12 saves.
Marist will now set their sights on their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2019; scheduling information is TBA.
Written in tandem by Daniel Destler and Luke Sassa
Photo Credit: Marist Athletics