After a Truly Rocky Season, Marist Looks Ready to Take Back The MAAC

(Photo Courtesy of Marist Athletics)

Coming into the 2021 season the Marist Red Foxes were thought to have the best roster in the MAAC and clear favorites to win the conference. After all, they were the defending MAAC champion from the last full season in 2019 and were coming off a shortened 2020 season which saw them run with a top-20 Richmond team for a full 60 minutes in a 13-11 loss and upset a top-10 Army West Point squad, 17-9, in one of the biggest surprises of the season.

However, things didn’t go exactly as planned for the Red Foxes.

Marist opened the season with a 15-11 home victory over Detroit Mercy on March 6th but would have to wait a full 45 days before they saw the field again due to highly-scrutinized COVID-19 protocols imposed by the university. The lengthy pause cost the Red Foxes seven games and left them with just two regular-season contests left on the schedule. Marist won each of the two contests, beating Quinnipiac 14-9 and Manhattan 14-7.

The pause was one of multiple situations that ultimately forced the MAAC to adjust their postseason tournament, expanding it to allow everyone in. Thus, the Red foxes were given the No. 5 seed and paired up against No. 4 Canisius in the conference quarterfinals, where they fell 14-13 to end their season. Despite a late-game, 6-1 run from the Red Foxes, Canisius was able to hold on for the victory and advance to the conference semifinals.

Following a season in which the Red Foxes saw very little action, it’s hard to get a clear grasp on exactly where this team stands amongst the rest of the MAAC heading into the 2022 season. But one thing is for sure, Keegan Wilkinson’s squads have traditionally played with a big chip on their shoulder, and they may have the biggest one ever heading into spring after what they went through last season.

Offense has carried Marist in recent years, and despite having only four games last season their offensive prowess still showed through. The Red Foxes averaged a conference-high 14 goals per game, 7.50 assists per game, and 21.50 points per game during the 2021 season.

Much of the same should be seen from the Red Foxes’ offense this coming season as they return all of their top-five scorers from a year ago in attackmen Jamison Embury (11G/7A), Vito Musso (14G/1A), and JoJo Pirreca (8G/5A), as well as midfielders Hunter Embury (8G/5A), and Jason Intermesoli (3G/5A), who will be back for an extra season. The returning core combined for 19 starts last season and 32 starts over the past two seasons alone.

The only full-time starter lost off this Marist offense is midfielder Joe Tierney (4G/3A), who was named the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year and a first-team All-MAAC selection as a fifth-year senior in 2021. The Bethpage, N.Y. native has been an impact player for the Red foxes and served as one of their top midfielder and overall offensive weapons since he arrived in Poughkeepsie as a freshman.

Returning one of the most talented offensive cores in the conference, this unit should only continue to build on the limited successes they were able to achieve last season. With Embury, Musso, and Pirreca combining to create one heck of a starting attack line that can be dangerous in various situations, and the other Embury twin and Intermesoli leading an offensive midfield that could see a number of guys step up and take that third starting spot, the only direction this Red Foxes’ offense appears to be headed is up.

Defensively, things look pretty similar for the Red Foxes as they only lose one starter from a unit that allowed 10.25 goals per game this past season and looks to have the room for tremendous growth in 2022. Sam Ahlgrim, who was the leader of Marist’s close defense last season with eight caused turnovers and 12 ground balls is the only loss on the back end.

Anchoring the Red Foxes’ defense will be Logan Covey who took over the starting job in cage as a freshman last season and thrived, making 49 saves with a .554% save percentage. With only four games under his belt thus far, first-team All-MAAC selection will get to show the college lacrosse world exactly what he is made of this spring after only being able to show a glimpse last season.

Out in front of the cage, defensemen Kyle Stofko (11GB/6CT) and Kurt Wessner (1GB/3CT) lead the Red Foxes’ close defense unit. LSM JT Roselle (8GB/6CT) and SSDM Keenan DeRaeve (4GB/3CT) return to lead the Marist rope unit.

While the Red Foxes return a great deal of talent on both ends of the field, the biggest question mark lies at the faceoff dot. Marist loses Andrew Evans, who went 43-for-107 (.402%) at the faceoff dot last season due to graduation. John Kelly was the only other faceoff man to see any action last season, winning one of two draws as a freshman. Kelly will be battling with incoming freshman Dylan Bedell for that starting spot. Whether it’s Kelly or Bedell who gets the starting job or the coaching staff elects for a more faceoff by committee approach, they will certainly be looking to get back to the numbers during the 2019 and 2020 seasons with Peyton Smith ranking among the top-20 nationally at the position.

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