Men’s Soccer Stages Thrilling Comeback Win Over FGCU

Marist men’s soccer came out victorious with a 2-1 win over Florida Gulf Coast University after a resurgent second half, scoring twice in the second frame.

Marist (1-1-1) continued their two-game road trip in Florida against the FGCU Eagles (0-1-2). Last time out, the Red Foxes drew 0-0 against Florida Atlantic University. Marist Goalkeeper Luca Bulfon was named MAAC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Owls, which included five saves and his first clean sheet of the season.

The Eagles came in searching for their first win of the season after two consecutive draws.

Marist was without star junior forward Richard Morel due to injury, so freshman Sam Gjokai was inserted into the starting lineup.

After mostly FGCU possession in the opening five minutes, Marist forward Jared Juleau picked off possession to draw a corner for the Red Foxes, but nothing came from it. In the 11th minute, FGCU defender Anthony Gagliardi put in a dangerous cross where Marist midfielder Skyler Cunha deflected the ball just past the far post for a corner kick.

Two minutes later, junior forward Shoki Yoshida found space outside the box and put a low shot off the left post, leaving Bulfon frozen.

The Red Foxes found little rhythm in the first 15 minutes, mainly because they needed to see more of the ball. Marist struggled to handle the high press from FGCU and were hemmed in their own half.

Yoshida once again found space after intercepting a pass from Marist defender Demarre Montoute and this time he rolled it past Bulfon, giving the Eagles the lead with 20 minutes left in the half. Marist paid the price for not handling the press from FGCU.

The Eagles threatened again in the 36th minute when junior forward Niall Reid-Stephen got a step on Marist defender Torge Witteborg, but the shot was weak for Bulfon to collect. At the end of the first half, the Red Foxes found themselves down a goal, having been outshot 8-1 while committing five more fouls than FGCU.

FGCU came out with the same intensity in the opening minutes of the second half, and after regaining possession, Yoshida and Reid-Stephen combined to get Yoshida a close-range shot. He wasn’t able to cash in, as the angle was too small causing him to hit the outside netting.

In the 53rd minute, the Eagles advanced the ball to Reid-Stephen, who found himself one on one with Bulfon. Bulfon came out big and made the save to keep Marist within reach.

Shortly thereafter, a great through ball from Red Fox defender Joseph Daher found midfielder Kyle Evans at the edge of the box, and his low shot just missed the far corner. Marist began to create better opportunities when in the 57th minute, freshman attacker Adam Rustani got in behind the defense, but FGCU recovered to see the ball out of play.

However, the Eagles also continued to apply pressure as freshman defender Samuel Maraver received a pass from Reid-Stephen after another Marist turnover, but his shot hit the outside netting.

Again, Maraver threatened to score when he got into the box. This time Bulfon was forced to make a close-ranged save with a half hour left to play.

Up until this point, Juleau had a quiet game for Marist, but he picked the ball off again in the 61st minute and was in on goal before FGCU just nudged the ball out for a corner kick.

Juleau again made his presence felt in the 67th minute with a pass to Kyle Evans on the left side; Evans put in a looping cross and sophomore forward Jonathan Salguero headed the ball in at the back post, leading to Salguero’s first goal of the season.

With the game tied, Marist picked up the intensity. Marist forced a red card from Eagles defender Lucas Windshaurer after Evans tipped the ball to junior Albion Bacaj; Bacaj was closing in on goal before Windshaurer sent himself into Bacaj, taking him to the ground.

On the ensuing free kick just outside the half circle, Juleau perfectly placed his shot into the top left corner, giving Marist a 2-1 lead with 15 minutes left to play. Eagles goalie Wyatt Kisner fully stretched out but could not reach Juleau’s spectacular shot.

Bulfon made another save off a shot from midfielder Luis Lugo in the 80th minute, maintaining the one-goal advantage. Marist threatened to add to the lead when Evans drew a foul 25 yards out and Juleau went for goal again, but Kisner made the diving stop to his right.

With two minutes left, Marist freshman Nicholas Sanchez intercepted a pass and moved the ball forward. After a crisp one-two pass with Bacaj, Sanchez was in on goal but missed it wide. That would have been the icing on the cake for Marist, but they ultimately saw the game out anyway, earning a thrilling comeback win. 

Luca Bulfon was again outstanding in goal with eight saves. The Red Foxes will continue their road trip with an opponent closer to home in the Albany Great Danes. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8.

Edited by Luke Sassa

Photo Credit: Marist Athletics via Stockton Photo

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