Hotaling’s Heroics Earn Draw for Marist Women’s Soccer

Marist women’s soccer had to fight two opponents on Sunday afternoon: the scorching heat and Seton Hall’s relentless press. 

Despite still looking for their winning mixture, the Red Foxes never gave up, beat the heat, and earned a last-minute 1-1 draw against a battle-tested Big East opponent.

After scoring late in the first half, Seton Hall looked to play the long game on defense and head home with a victory. While they drowned out any Marist attacking opportunity for the majority of the half, a picture-perfect free kick from graduate student midfielder Grace Hotaling tied the match, sending the Marist bench into an uproar and breaking the Red Foxes’ early season scoring drought.

In their second home match of the season, the Red Foxes dedicated the game towards the Madison Holleran Foundation, a non-profit organization for crisis and suicide prevention.

The Sunday matchup comes four days after a quiet home opener against Cornell. Today, Marist started the game with more intensity and moved the ball more efficiently. Head coach Nicole Pacapelli adjusted her tactics, putting her team in a 4-2-3-1 formation, helping Marist keep a strong midfield and use link-up plays to get the ball down the wings.

“In the past few games, we still needed more protection in the center area of the field, so we added that extra midfielder for protection,” said Pacapelli. “It also allows our outside midfielders to apply pressure quicker and our outside backs to be more comfortable.”

Seton Hall transitioned from defense to offense with speed, keeping Marist’s backline deep to avoid being countered. With a stronger midfield structure early on, the Red Foxes were able to use quick passes to exit the defensive zone and push up the wings. Hotaling and senior forward Grace DiVincenzo–occupuying the wings–used their speed and pushed the Pirates’ defense on their heels.

In the 16th minute, Marist began finding ways behind Seton Hall when Hotaling got around her mark and earned a corner. Senior midfielder Amanda Calderalli’s corner kick was cleared out to graduate student defender Samantha Sturno, who crossed it back in from the right side. The Red Foxes continued to struggle on execution as Pirates graduate student goalkeeper Morgan Fedosiewich blocked the weak shot with ease.

“We spent probably an hour and a half this week working on set pieces, so I know taking advantage of them is really important,” said Pacapelli. “At the end of the day, they’re all scoring opportunities.”

Red Foxes’ senior goalkeeper Kelly Lambertson was called upon to make four saves in the first half and kept on her toes to make break-out passes when the Pirates press pushed Marist back. In the 32nd minute, as Lambertson attempted to clear the ball, freshman forward Megan Twomey intercepted the high pass, took a touch, and fired the ball with her right foot. Lambertson was able to calmly step in front of the shot, push it off the crossbar, and catch on the way back down.

Just a minute later, a quick throw-in from Marist gave graduate student forward Brooke Cergol space to run on the right wing. Fighting off two defenders, Cergol whipped a cross over the far post, where it was headed back down into the middle, but no offensive support arrived, and the chance was lost.

As the half went on, heat fatigue began showing for Marist, and Seton Hall turned on the pressure. Lamberston made three saves in ten minutes late in the first half, but the Pirates kept testing the Marist defense until it broke. Senior forward Skyler Matusz found space by the goal line, went through the legs of her defender, and picked out onrushing senior midfielder Brina Micheels. From the middle of the box, Micheel made no mistake and went bar down, giving the Pirates the lead and putting Marist on the ropes.

When the halftime whistle blew, momentum slipped from Marist’s hands as Seton Hall gained confidence from their high press and quick, deliberate attacks.

At halftime, Pacapelli once again swapped her goalies, and sophomore Maddy Catalanotti took the net.

For the first ten minutes of the second half, Marist came out with intensity and determination to not let this game slip away. Pressing high, Cergol forced Fedosiewich to make her third save of the game less than a minute after play had resumed.

The rhythm of the game slowed down in crunch time and favored Seton Hall. Marist found themselves unable to get numbers upfield and put a strain on the Pirates, allowing them to play their game and control the pace.

In the second half, Catalanotti made three saves, none bigger than a sprawling dive in the 83rd minute. When a goal kick failed to get past Seton Hall’s high press, it fell right onto Matusz’s foot. She looked up and aimed for the top left corner, only for Catalanotti to rob her of a likely game-clincher.

Catalanotti’s leap to keep the game within reach would not be wasted when Marist got a free kick just outside the box, prime scoring distance. Hotaling took her five-yard run up and struck the ball with her right foot, curling it over the wall and perfectly into the top corner of the net.

“I’ve been practicing those a lot in practice; my teammates have been encouraging me to take those shots, so the practice paid off,” said Hotaling. 

Seton Hall tried to regain their lead, but Marist’s honed defense held on, earning them a confidence-boosting tie against a tenacious opponent.

Marist will play UConn on the road this Wednesday before opening MAAC play at Rider on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Edited By Dan Aulbach

Photo Credit: Kira Crutcher

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