Marist men’s soccer could not get the job done as they lost 1-0 to MAAC conference-leading Iona. The Red Foxes outshot the Gaels 11 to 9 but only mustered three shots on target.
The Red Foxes (5-5-3, 3-2-2 MAAC) sought to continue their win streak after two consecutive victories over Quinnipiac and Fairfield, putting them fourth in the MAAC standings. Marist was down a key player this match, however, as sophomore midfielder Skyler Cunha was suspended one match for yellow card accumulation.
“He’s our captain, he’s one of our best players. Unfortunately, sometimes the referee catches up with you as the season goes on,” head coach Matt Viggiano said.
Meanwhile, for the Iona Gaels (8-2-0, 6-0 MAAC), they were a perfect 5-0 in conference play entering tonight and have not lost a match since Sept. 2nd. Iona was surprisingly without top goal scorer Camil Azzam Ruiz to start the game. He has started 7 of 9 games this season and was subbed on in the second half.
Marist got the action going with an early corner kick. Shortly after, junior forward Richard Morel found space in the box and fired a shot towards goal. His effort was blocked by Gaels junior defender Tom Fillaudeau.
Iona responded to the early start from the Red Foxes and took an early lead thanks to a clean finish from junior midfielder Thiago Cagna.
In the fourth minute, a long ball sent past the Marist line bounced awkwardly, and graduate goalkeeper Luca Bulfon was caught out of position at the top of the penalty box. Iona senior forward Aly Camara calmly brought the ball down and laid it off for Cagna, who slotted the ball to the bottom left corner for a 1-0 Iona lead.
“We gifted them a goal five minutes into the game. It’s frustrating because that kind of set the tone,” Viggiano said.
Minutes later, Thiago found himself one-on-one with Bulfon, but his chip couldn’t come down as Bulfon charged out, keeping the Gaels lead at one.
Iona controlled possession after taking the lead, forcing the Red Foxes to chase the ball and move side-to-side.
In the 15th minute, Camara was played through on goal after a crisp pass from freshman midfielder Jad Benjelloun, but Bulfon stifled the chance and kept the deficit at one.
Two minutes later, a free kick at the corner of the box gave senior forward Jared Juleau a look at goal, but his shot missed to the right.
Marist moved the ball up the field, and a cross from freshman defender Nicholas Sanchez forced Iona keeper Nacho Alfaro Monge to push it out of danger.
Camara continued to put his stamp on the match by drawing a foul and a subsequent yellow card given to Marist defender Bernardo Gracindo. The ensuing free kick was headed wide by Camara.
With a quarter-hour left in the half, Red Fox midfielder Adam Rustami drove up the pitch to the top of the box. He fired a shot to the far post but was blocked. At this point, Marist recorded four shots, but none reached the goal.
Minutes later, Iona earned a corner and played it short; the resulting cross threatened the Marist goal, but Bulfon made a strong catch diving to his right with several Gaels behind him waiting for the tap-in.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, Sanchez again got down the ride side; but this time he cut in and was brought down by a clean challenge from Iona defenders.
“They had one chance they scored. We get it in the box, we got to be more dangerous. We got to be willing to take half-chances and put the ball into dangerous areas,” Viggiano said.
In the final minute of the half, a cross from Cagna was narrowly pushed away by Bulfon, once again keeping the deficit to one at the half.
The second half started slowly, but Camara ran off Marist defender Demarre Mountoute’s shoulder; he followed that with a shot that missed the near post.
In the 58th minute, Juleau cut in from the right and fired a shot, but Monge was quick to pluck the ball from the air.
Four minutes later, a Marist free kick resulted in a massive collision between Monge and Morel, but nothing came of it.
In the 67th minute, Morel got past his man and put in a cross. Rustami took a rough touch and he scuffed the shot wide. Moments later, Morel found space and let one go, but Monge made the near post-stop.
Much of the second half caused frustration for Marist; the rare possession they had up the field was halted quickly by the Gaels defense. The Red Foxes lost control several times because the midfield was too congested to dribble through.
“We’re trying to be a little too intricate, a little too cute. Sometimes you just got to grind out a goal, it’s college soccer,” Viggiano said.
With 12 minutes left, an Iona free-kick led to one of their best chances of the match. After a failed clearance, Fillaudeau brought the ball down, and from eight yards out he hit the inside of the far post.
In the 83rd minute, Morel turned his man after a throw-in, and the ball fell to freshman midfielder Evan Villaboy. He was quickly taken off the ball at the edge of the box and Iona cleared it away.
Tensions rose in the final five minutes starting with a hard tackle from freshman defender Joseph Daher. Several challenges ensued with players sliding across the turf and the two teams’ benches standing up.
With just over two minutes left, Sanchez received a pass from sophomore defender Andrea Ngionza in the box. He fired at a low angle and missed high and wide.
“A dead even game for me. So, hopefully, we’ll see them again,” Viggiano said.
The Red Foxes enter the final stretch of the season as they travel to Buffalo, NY to face Canisius on Saturday, Oct. 21. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Edited by Luke Sassa
Photo Credit: Kira Crutcher