Manhattan junior forward Gunnar Studenhofft took it upon himself to give Marist their first conference loss of the season, scoring three goals en route to a 3-2 Manhattan victory.
Playing in front of a large crowd of Marist families during the College’s family weekend, the Red Foxes (3-4-2) quite simply couldn’t contain the Manhattan forward. Studenhofft, who originally hails from the Cayman Islands, scored once in the first half and twice during the second.
After a week off from play since drawing with Niagara, a rested Marist side entered with three wins to their name at the halfway point in the season. The task to earn their fourth victory would prove to be a tricky one without senior midfielder Jared Juleau in the lineup due to a red card suspension.
“We’re shorthanded right now, he’s not the only one who’s out,” said head coach Matt Viggiano, alluding to other players absent from the lineup due to injury such as freshman midfielder Kyle Evans. “I don’t make excuses about it, we don’t even talk about it in the locker room.”
The Jaspers (3-4-2) came into the night under .500 yet ahead of Marist in the MAAC standings thanks to victories over Canisius and Mount St. Mary’s to open MAAC play.
The action picked up in the sixth minute when junior forward Richard Morel outran the Manhattan defense and charged toward freshman goalkeeper Lucas Jones. Jones laid out and tripped up Morel to prevent the shot, earning himself a yellow card and setting up Marist with a free kick from just outside the box.
Sophomore midfielder Skyler Cunha lined up to take the close-range free kick; he found himself looking to make a contribution after missing what would’ve been the game-winning penalty kick a week ago. Cunha also failed to connect this time, as his shot hit off the crossbar, bouncing downward and back into play.
Manhattan had a chance to take the lead in the ninth minute when Studenhofft broke away up the left side and fired a shot toward right side of the Marist net. His shot ultimately broke too much, missing to the right.
The Jaspers earned another yellow card in the 13th minute for tripping up freshman forward Adam Rustami; this time, junior forward Tony Yeboah was the culprit. Cunha lined up for another free kick from a bit further out this time, and he couldn’t connect.
The Red Foxes received another good look in the 19th minute when an offensive push ended with a close-range shot from junior midfielder Jørgen Thue Kristiansen. Kristiansen spun around and fired across his body to the left, but Jones was there to make the save.
Marist received a gift with 13 minutes remaining in the half when Manhattan missed a golden opportunity; Red Fox graduate student goalkeeper Luca Bulfon was out of position, leading to an open net for Studenhofft on the right side. Studenhofft’s shot bounced off the right post, where the Marist fans in attendance breathed a sigh of relief.
Studenhofft wouldn’t be denied much longer; In the 36th minute, a sequence of passes from the left side gave him a chance to score from the middle. Upon receiving the ball, he immediately fired off a high shot that found the back of the net for his second goal of the year. Sophomore defender Nassim Akki was credited with the assist, and the 1-0 lead stood through the remainder of the half.
“We dominated the first half, and then we gave them a goal, gifted them a goal in the first half in my opinion,” said Viggiano.
As it turned out, Studenhofft was only just getting started. In the 57th minute, a couple of deflections ended with him possessing the ball at close range on the left side, and he sank in a low shot to put the Jaspers up 2-0. Morel missed a chance to get Marist back into the game on the ensuing possession, sending a shot from the right side that just barely missed to the left.
Studenhofft still wasn’t done, as he hung back during Morel’s missed shot before winding up with the ball again on the next Manhattan advance. He successfully buried yet another shot, giving him a hat trick and a team-leading four goals on the year.
“We knew coming in what their danger was,” said Viggiano. “We made him look good tonight, because he had scored one goal the whole year, and then he bangs in three tonight. Tip your hat to him, good performance. I thought we gifted him the third goal, to be honest. And the first one, we fell asleep for a second.”
Morel finally gave the fans at Tenney Stadium something to cheer about with 28 minutes remaining in play, as Rustami assisted him on a shot from the left side, giving Morel his second goal this season. The goal initially seemed as though it would be too little too late, but the Red Foxes managed to make the game interesting.
A foul on Sanneh with seven minutes remaining set up Cunha with a penalty kick opportunity and a chance to get within one. Cunha succeeded in getting the monkey off his back, sending his shot to the right as Jones dove to the left.
Midfielder Skyler Cunha looking to advance possession
The score was his second of the year, making it a 3-2 game and sending Tenney Stadium into a frenzy.
Despite the late comeback attempt, the Red Foxes ran out of time, suffering their first conference loss of the season and falling below .500 overall.
“I’m happy character-wise we didn’t give up,” said Viggiano. “We could’ve just folded up shop at 3-0. Hopefully, the guys realize, I thought we were the better team for the most part. Obviously, they won on the scoreboard, that’s all that really matters at this level.”
Marist will look to get back on track when they travel to Maryland to face Mount St. Mary’s on the road next Saturday at 7 p.m.
Edited By Marley Pope
Photo Credits: Jaylen Rizzo and Kira Crutcher