On an overcast and windy afternoon in upstate New York, Marist women’s soccer battled with Niagara for a 0-0 draw Saturday afternoon.
Both teams were eager to get back to MAAC play after disappointing non-conference results but neither team could grab hold of the game or three points that could have come with it. Niagara doubled the Red Foxes’ shot total 18-9, but Marist had seven corners to the Purple Eagle’s two and only trailed by three shots on goal.
With both Marist (1-5-3, 1-1-1 MAAC) and Niagara (2-7-1, 1-1-1 MAAC) sitting even at .500 through two games in the MAAC, the afternoon showdown provided an opportunity to overcome some early concerns and move their conference seasons in the right direction. The Red Foxes had only scored two goals in eight games, while the Purple Eagles had conceded 24 goals through their first nine matches.
The game started with an expected slow pace as both teams tried to grow into the game. In the seventh minute, Niagara took the match’s first shot on target after quick buildup play from freshman forward Isabella Mazzaferro got the ball to the top of the box. Senior forward Emma Bough took the shot, but it was easily caught by Marist sophomore goalkeeper Maddy Catalanotti.
Marist thought they took an early lead in the 10th minute when senior midfielder Amanda Caldarelli worked herself some space in the box and sent the ball toward goal. Onrushing sophomore midfielder Jillian Garcia tipped the ball past Niagara sophomore goalkeeper Agnes Stenlund; however, Garcia was called offside, and the game remained scoreless.
As the half progressed, the teams exchanged possession and took their respective chances, yet never truly challenged either goalkeeper. Red Fox sophomore midfielder Olivia Lindsay was called for a foul and assessed a yellow card in the 20th minute, setting up a Niagara free kick just above the box. Bough stood over it and fired, but the Marist wall did its job, getting a piece of the shot and making it an easy catch for Catalanotti.
In the 31st minute, Caldarelli received a pass at the top of the box and aimed for goal, but the shot missed high. Five minutes before halftime, Niagara showed off their quick offensive buildup play, getting the ball to graduate student midfielder Emily Hähnel. The midfielder laid the ball off for junior midfielder Maia MacLean, who took a shot, forcing Catalanotti to make a diving save.
At the end of the first half, Niagara had a large lead over the Red Foxes 12-6 in total shots but the gap was only 6-4 in shots on goal.
Niagara graduate student forward Djeynaba Thiam was played through for a bad angle breakaway in the 60th minute. She took a shot from the right side of the box, but Catalanotti had rushed out to eliminate the angle and smother the shot.
The Purple Eagles kept on the front foot, creating one of their best chances in the 68th minute. Mazzaferro dropped the ball into the middle of the box after making a run up the left side; a ricocheted shot from MacLean hit the crossbar and bounced back down. Mazzaferro got a chance at it, but Catalanotti was able to cover it with multiple Niagara players around.
Marist had to hang on defensively for much of the late second half until the 85th-minute mark when they started generating chances of their own. Graduate student forward Brooke Cergol got past her defender, setting up a 2-on-1 from the top of the box.
However, junior defender Raelyn Stranc got over in time to block the shot. With time about to expire, Cergol found herself again with the ball in the Niagara box and fired, hitting the crossbar with one second, giving a dramatic finish to a cautious game.
Both teams failed to seize their opportunities during the game and, because of that, had to settle for a point each. Catalanotti was a bright spot for Marist in her return to the pitch, making a new collegiate career-high 10 saves and recording her second shutout.
The Red Foxes will hit the road again next Saturday to face Manhattan. A matchup with the team projected to finish last by the MAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll will become a fair determination of where Marist’s season is heading as they continue to look for their scoring power.
Edited by: Aidan Lavin
Photo Credit: Kira Crutcher