Men's soccer faces must win weekend after road losses.
This weekend has been make it or break it for the Marist men's soccer team. Following two losses on the road at Loyola and Rider, Marist is staring at a 1-3 record and their final two home games of the season coming up this Friday and Sunday. With only the top four teams in the standings qualifying for the MAAC Tournament, and the Red Foxes sitting in seventh place, this upcoming weekend is critical for the team.
"It is what it is, we need six points," said Marist head coach Matt Viggiano. "Can we get away with a win and a tie? Maybe, but then you're asking to go on the road for the last three games of the year and probably win them all. If we're being realistic with ourselves, we need six points."
Marist is in this situation after dropping two tough decisions this past weekend, via a 2-1 overtime loss at Loyola and a 2-0 loss at Rider. Throughout the weekend, the Red Foxes out-shot, out-possessed, and for the most part outplayed their opponents, but they could never find the goals that they needed, while getting no help from the officials along the way.
When the Red Foxes and Greyhounds squared off on Friday night, both teams came out flying offensively. Senior midfielder Anthony Rozmus ripped a shot off the crossbar in the 11th minute in the first real scoring chance of the game, before Loyola came back with two shots on target of their own, both being denied by junior goalkeeper Anthony Sokalski.
The Red Foxes threatened again in the 23rd minute when sophomore Nick Bramall's header appeared to be headed for the back of the net, but a Loyola defender cleared it off the line, keeping the game scoreless.
Sokalski made one more save on Loyola's only other shot on target of the half, and senior forward Stephan Brossard saw two of his own efforts denied by Greyhounds goalkeeper Thurman Van Riper. The two teams went to the locker rooms with zeros on the scoreboard.
Marist again came out strong in the second half and was finally rewarded for its efforts in the 70th minute when Brossard netted his seventh goal of the season from outside the box.
However, Loyola came right back and scored the game-tying goal just two minutes later on a header from Jamie Libby.
"Every time we seem to score a goal, we seem to take a deep breath and by the time we finish taking that breath the other team seems to put one in on us," Viggiano said.
A hard struggle ensued throughout the rest of the game with both teams trading chances, before Loyola came out victorious in overtime, winning the game by the 2-1 score line.
"We probably deserved better. We can't seem to catch a break," Viggiano said. "We hit the crossbar in the first half, had a ball cleared off the line, so we probably should have been up 2-0 at halftime, so it was tough."
The Red Foxes looked to rebound in New Jersey on Sunday against Rider, but despite outplaying the Broncs for much of the match, came away with a 2-0 loss. A couple of controversial decisions seemed to do the Red Foxes in, with a handball in the Rider box going uncalled, as well as a penalty kick for Rider in the second half, which resulted in the game's first goal.
"I really feel like we were shafted," Viggiano said. "There was a clear handball in the box in the first half that the referee decided for whatever reason to let go, and in the second half there was a beyond questionable penalty kick call at the beginning of the second half, which changed the entire complexion of the game."
Marist outshot Rider by an 11-5 margin in the first half, including 3-0 in shots on goal, but they could not find the back of the net. Sophomore Dylan Lee, junior Evan Southworth and Brossard all tested the Rider net, but each was denied.
Following the controversial penalty kick goal from Rider to open the second half, Marist continued to press but could not find an equalizer before Rider doubled their lead. Southworth had another shot on target denied by Rider goalkeeper Matt Perrella and the Red Foxes could not find the back of the net as they fell 2-0.
This brings us to Marist's final two home games of the season: this weekend against Canisius and Niagara. Despite Coach Viggiano knowing that his team needs a big weekend, the approach is still contingent on taking it one game at a time.
"Our focus right now is Canisius," Viggiano said. "We knock them off and we get the ball rolling in the right direction. I really feel like we're a break away or a goal away from something happening and the switch going on and we're riding it out the rest of the year.
The Red Foxes will take on Canisius Friday night at 7 p.m., before hosting Niagara on Sunday at 1 p.m., where it will honor the senior class of Brossard, Rozmus and Josh Faga on Senior Day.
"We obviously want to send the seniors off with a win," Viggiano said. "They've given a lot to this program and they deserve to go out with a successful weekend."
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