Lacrosse quest for MAAC glory comes up short
From the start of the season, it was the goal of the Marist men's lacrosse team to not only make the MAAC Tournament, but also win it. Win it not only for themselves, but also out of love for their former teammate, Eddie Coombs. Coombs passed away last summer in a car accident and the team has acknowledged all season long that they were dedicating this year to him and were trying to win the championship for his family.
The fourth-seeded Foxes however, could not make that dream a reality. The Red Foxes were eliminated last Friday night following an 11-9 loss to top-seeded Siena.
"It's tough losing the tournament at your home field," junior midfielder Jimmy Marks said. "A couple of plays here and there and we would've beaten Siena."
Marks had a multi-point performance with a goal and an assist. Evan Guarini and Aedan Herman each scored two goals apiece. Other goal scorers included: Jack Doherty, Bobby Carpenter, Colin Joka and Brett Bernardo, all of whom scored a goal apiece. Connor Rice was held scoreless but added three assists on the evening.
After Herman scored both of his goals, he pointed to the heavens to acknowledge Coombs.
"I pointed up to [Eddie] after each goal to let him know it's all for him, but he already knows that," Herman said.
The two rivals exhibited a fast paced and exciting opening period. Siena scored first but Carpenter quickly answered the goal with one of his own with 8:44 remaining in the first. Guarini then put the Foxes ahead at 2-1 with 30 seconds remaining in the opening period.
Early in the second, the Saints scored two quick goals six seconds apart to regain the lead at 3-2. The fast paced action would continue as Herman and Joka each responded for the Foxes to give Marist the lead once again.
The Saints would respond once again with a tying goal, but Herman broke the tie and Marks added one more to give the Red Foxes a 6-4 advantage heading into halftime.
Marist goaltender Craig Goodermote played a terrific second half, making some unbelievable saves, of which he had 13 on the evening. Unfortunately for the defense, the Foxes' offense had trouble connecting for goals to support Goodermote's stellar play.
Siena outscored Marist 4-1 in the third quarter, giving them an 8-7 lead going into the final period of play.
Another early period goal in the fourth gave the Saints a 9-7 lead. Doherty then scored and brought Marist within one with 11:25 remaining in the game. Two more Siena goals increased their lead to three at 11-8. Bernardo scored the final goal of the Foxes' season with 3:01 remaining in the game to cut the lead to 11-9, a score that Siena would hold until the end for the win.
Siena advanced to the championship game on Sunday but fell 10-9 to Canisius, as they did not score a goal for the entire second half. Canisius will move on to the national circuit to contend for a national championship in a few weeks.
"It was an unfortunate loss for us," Marist first-year head coach Keegan Wilkinson said. "We executed our game plan well and our senior leadership was unbelievable."
Marist will be losing seven seniors in the offseason but next year's team is looking very promising to contend for a MAAC championship.
"We're very proud of what we did this season, but we're certainly not satisfied. We'll really miss our seniors because those will be some big shoes to fill in terms of leadership for what should be an exciting next season," Wilkinson said.
Although the team fell short of a championship, they can walk away from this season with their heads held high knowing Eddie is proud of them. Not many teams, when hit in the face of adversity like this one was, would be able to accomplish what they did for Eddie.
Senior co-captain Kevin Defranco credited one of his teammates for the foundation Eddie's legacy has left on the men's lacrosse program at Marist.
"Ed is the blueprint that current and future players will play like. Play with heart, passion for the game and love of their teammates, just like he did."
"We're obviously upset we couldn't accomplish what we wanted to do for Ed and his family," Guarini said. "However, we can go out knowing we left everything on the field this year for him. His locker and legacy aren't going anywhere for the players returning and the new ones coming in. Ed will always be the blueprint for our success and he will never be forgotten."
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