POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Two early goals in the first half and one late in the second gave the Marist men’s soccer team (7-5-4, 3-3-2 MAAC) a decisive 3-0 victory over the Niagara Purple Eagles (5-10-2, 2-5-1 MAAC) on Wednesday Afternoon.
The Red Foxes needed three points to stay alive in the playoff race for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships going into the match and performed like it was a must win.
Senior defenseman MJ Stellwag (Newburgh, N.Y.) kicked off the scoring in the 10th minute with a rocket free kick just outside the box. Stellwag’s kick from the right side curved past the wall and into the top left corner of the net to give him his second goal of the year and the team the eventual game winner.
A scramble in front of goal just three minutes later would give the Red Foxes another goal and a 2-0 lead over Niagara. Stellwag sent a long pass into the box from around midfield and after a few bounces the ball found the foot of freshman midfielder Brandon Curtis (Stony Point, N.Y.) who knocked the ball low into the net past the keeper.
Niagara applied some pressure towards the end of the first half and beginning of the second but were unable to penetrate the Red Foxes strong defensive front. The Red Foxes yielded nine corners and 10 shots, but only two Niagara shots were on goal.
When the Niagara shots did find net freshman goalkeeper Mark Rajovic (Katonah, N.Y.) was waiting. Rajovic recorded two saves on the day behind a stellar defensive line and earned his seventh shutout of the season.
Freshman forward Brendan Gallivan (Massapequa, N.Y.) scored the first collegiate goal of his career to extend the lead to 3-0 in the 82nd minute. Senior forward Matel Anasta (Catskill, N.Y.) found a wide open Gallivan at the side of the goal with an unselfish pass off a counter attack.
“We wanted to put pressure on them early to get some chances and see if we could take advantage of the opportunity,” said head coach Matt Viggiano. “We have to keep playing our game and doing what got us to where we are now.”
The Red Foxes return to action Saturday, Nov. 1st at 7 P.M. for senior night as they host Rider in another big MAAC matchup. The team will be looking for more points to move one step closer to ensure them a spot in the MAAC Championships.