A trip to Jared Juleau’s neck of the woods ended with the star forward notching a goal and an assist as Marist men’s soccer earned a 3-2 win over Fairfield.
In a season full of standout performances from Juleau, this one held extra meaning, as the junior forward grew up only 20 minutes away from Fairfield in Stamford, Connecticut. The Red Foxes (5-4-3, 3-1-2) needed every bit of his contributions, as they just barely held on down the stretch to escape with the narrow victory.
Marist entered tonight looking to keep things rolling after notching a 1-0 home victory over Quinnipiac on Wednesday night. Overall, they came in ranked fourth in the MAAC conference standings; their middle-of-the-pack ranking is indicative of their level of play thus far, as they entered the night as one of eight teams in the nation with a perfectly even +0 goal differential.
For Fairfield (3-7-1, 0-5-1), the task at hand was far more urgent, as the Stags came into play ranked dead last in the MAAC standings and having yet to win in conference play.
The Stags charged out of the gate determined to change their fortunes, and sure enough, they jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute. Junior defender Kris Naicker started the scoring play with a gorgeous feed, sending a precise tap-pass forward through the Marist backline to senior forward Thomas Drillien. From there, Drillien corralled the ball and sent in a successful shot for his 14th career goal.
Sophomore Marist midfielder Skyler Cunha tried to draw the Red Foxes even in the 22nd minute by sending a close-range shot from the left side, but senior goalkeeper James Anderson made the adept save to preserve the lead. Anderson continued his excellent start to the night a few minutes later, making a pair of vital saves on promising shots from Juleau in the 29th minute.
Juleau’s first shot was a low grounder that veered toward the right post; Anderson dove out and made the save to preserve the lead. Juleau then attempted another shot from even closer range on the ensuing play, and this time, Anderson charged out of goal and blocked the shot.
Despite initially being denied on his first few scoring opportunities, Juleau’s homecoming moment eventually came to fruition with seven minutes remaining in the first half. Juleau stalked Stags junior defender Lenni Mierow in front of the penalty area, eventually forcing a turnover and giving him possession. He carried the ball and uncorked a strong shot to draw the Red Foxes even at one heading into the break.
Marist got off to a rollicking start in the second half, with a successful corner kick leading to the go-ahead score in the 48th minute. Cunha sent a picture-perfect corner kick directly to junior midfielder Jørgen Thue Kristiansen, who sliced the ball into the net to put the Red Foxes up 2-1. That Kristiansen’s second straight match with a goal.
Graduate student goalkeeper Luca Bulfon made a jaw-dropping save for Marist in the 54th minute to keep the lead intact. A deflected header caused the ball to bounce directly in front of Drillien at close range, and he bodied the ball directly toward the net. Out of nowhere, Bulfon sprung up from the ground and snatched out of the air what looked to be a surefire goal.
Marist doubled the lead nearly five minutes later on a flawless set piece. It was none other than Juleau assisting the score, as the local product sent in a flawless free kick from the right side to senior defender Bernardo Gracindo, who was parked at the back post. Gracindo collected the ball, fired and gave the Red Foxes breathing room with his timely score.
A Marist foul in the box with 21 minutes remaining gave the Stags a prime opportunity to get back into the game on a penalty kick, but sophomore midfielder Sam Danner completely airmailed his shot.
The misfire became that much more crucial when Danner threaded the ball through for a score with 10 minutes remaining; had Danner also made his penalty shot, the game would’ve been tied, but Fairfield still trailed 3-2.
With under a minute remaining, the Stags launched one final attack, and Bulfon emerged at the top of the box to make the leaping save and salt away the game. The Red Foxes will now press onward with another three points to their name; their next match is on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when they take on Iona at Tenney.
Edited By Marley Pope
Graphic Credit: Jaylen Rizzo