Women’s Soccer Maintains Playoff Aspirations in Draw Against Fairfield

Marist women’s soccer earned a critical point against the offensive powerhouse Fairfield Stags with a 0-0 draw Saturday night. The result keeps the Red Foxes’ playoff hopes strong going into the final two games of the season.

For a scoreless game, both teams played with intensity and created chances, knowing picking up points late in the season is crucial.

Coming into the match, Marist and Fairfield were on opposite ends of the table, and their team confidence was moving in different directions. The Red Foxes (2-8-4, 2-4-2 MAAC) were on a three-game losing streak, where they had been outscored 12-1 after a 6-1 thumping at Quinnipiac on Wednesday. Fairfield (6-5-4, 4-2-1 MAAC) got back into the win column last time out, picking up a 1-0 win over Manhattan. The Stags, who remain third in the MAAC, have outshot every conference opponent this season.

“[I was looking for] a response,” said Marist head coach Nicole Pacapelli, after the team’s five goal loss. “When we want to compete, we’re good, and when we don’t want to compete, we’re inconsistent.”

Sitting at ninth in the MAAC standings, Marist needed to start collecting points to keep their playoff hopes intact.

Fairfield started the game with their foot on the gas, getting the ball into the Marist box within eight seconds and recording their first shot attempt. The cross from senior forward Elle Scott eventually fell to sophomore forward Maddy Theriault, who fired wide.

Both teams relied on using their right wings to get the ball upfield. Both teams earned multiple corners in the first half – 3-2 in favor of Fairfield – but struggled to get shots on target.

A Fairfield corner in the 21st minute earned their closest chance to find the back of the net. Sophomore defender Meghan Carragher’s shot was blocked on the goalline by Marist junior defender Bella Lazzaro. The Stags kept the ball near the box, but the opportunity ended when sophomore midfielder Sam Kersey’s shot sailed high.

The first and only shot on goal of the opening 45 minutes came with 30 seconds left. Marist kept the ball alive after a corner, finding graduate student defender Samantha Sturno on the right side. Sturno whipped a cross in for sophomore midfielder Jillian Garcia, who headed it on target, forcing a stretching save from Stags sophomore goalkeeper Katie Wright.

“I think we knew we did what we could in the first half, but it wasn’t done, so we still had to keep the energy going into the second half,” said senior midfielder Amanda Caldarelli.

For an energetic and lively first half, neither team was able to consistently create dangerous chances.

Marist wasted no time in the second half to get their offense going. Just over a minute after the restart, graduate student forward Brooke Cergol found senior midfielder Chance Hendricks at the top of the box. Hendricks took a touch past her defender and shot on goal but missed just off the post and wide.

Kersey nearly had her second goal in as many games when she ripped one off the crossbar from over 30 yards out in the 66th minute. Fairfield’s offensive motor started humming after that, under a minute later, when junior midfielder Sam Erickson’s cross was headed for the far post by junior midfielder Reagan Klarmann. Marist sophomore goalkeeper Maddy Catalanotti dove out to make her first save of the night.

Catalanotti had another scare when Theriault fired from well outside the penalty area, smashing it against the post, keeping the game scoreless. Theriault currently leads the MAAC with six goals after taking home 2022 MAAC Rookie of the Year and 2023 MAAC Preseason Player of the Year honors.

“We knew [about her awards], and she can score from everywhere,” said Pacapelli. “We scouted her so we knew what was coming and that it was important for us to shut her down. Sam Sturno and Emily Dovico did a fantastic job [against Theriault.]”

Fairfield kept pressing toward the final whistle but couldn’t find the back of the net. The Stags outshot Marist 16-4 and 4-2 in shots on goal.

With two games left, Marist is still able to sneak into the six-team playoff tournament but will need to win games.

“The mentality is that we need three points and we can’t settle for less,” said Caldarelli. “It starts with pushing each other in practice, so we’re ready for gameday.”

Edited by: Aidan Lavin

Photo Credit: Jaylen Rizzo

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