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Marist Holds Off US Merchant Marine Academy

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Marist Holds Off US Merchant Marine Academy

Marist players deal with the weather.

Marist edged US Merchant Marine Academy 20-17 in what seems to be the meeting of the top two teams in the Tri-State.

The rain had held off all morning but started in earnest just before kickoff. The wind was also strong and both conditions would have their effect. Marist had the bulk of possession early but had trouble making four passes into five or running their usual expansive style of play. Marist scored an early try through No. 8 TJ Finegan that was converted by flyhalf Federico Gubana. Marist again made inroads into the attacking 22 through some high kicks and Gubana slotted a penalty goal from about 25 meters out to make it 10-0.

USMMA challenged very well on defense and shut down most running in close quarters. Their first real foray into the attacking 22 came with some hard, positive running through their tight five, especially lock Kenny Walsh. Marist showed some strong defense with freshman flanker Tomas Falcon and center and captain Enrique Pesantez leading the way.

Marist again made inroads into the attacking half through a strong kick chase and the foot of Gubana. Gubana slotted another penalty goal to make the score 13-0, which is how the first half ended.

Was that enough with the wind? Marist had to be concerned that it wasn't.

The very physical style of play coupled with the weather kept the game close in the opening quarter of the second half and Marist lost several players through injury, including Falcon, wing Dan Sawyer, fullback Benji Hanneman, and prop Ben Surman. USMMA pushed the ball into the Marist  22 with good phase play and finally put Walsh over to make it 13-5.

In the second half Marist did well against the wind with prop Christian Gregor and No. 8 T.J. Finnegan getting the side go forward; center Enrique Pesantez was important to that as well. Finally, after some back-and-forth play Marist scored through a strong pick-and-go by Pesantez, and with the conversions from Gubana the Red Foxes led 20-5.

Kings Point was not deterred and while Gubana kept trying to pin the cadets back they countered well. Flyhalf Jack Drow slammed a 50-meter 22-meter dropout that was chased well and led to a turnover and a try by the flyhalf.

Several minutes of phases, a lineout win and a Marist penalty led USMMA down within 10 meters. The forwards worked hard to get closer, and scrumhalf Mike Anselmi finished it off to make it 20-17.

Kings Point kept it up and tried to complete the comeback. But Marist's defense held on and several well-placed kicks by Gubana meant the Merchant Marine Academy had to go at least 80 meters to get into scoring position.

Pesantez made a key poach with about 90 seconds remaining to all but seal the win. Marist elected to run out the clock instead of kick for goal, and they were able to run four phases of pick-and-go's before kicking into touch to end the game 20-17.

Man of the match for Marist was Pesantez while Gubana was key as usual along with Finegan and flanker Ryker Weirdsma. Hooker Zack Fultz was outstanding. The Merchant Mariners were led by Walsh with the halfback combination of Anselmi and Drow also playing well.

Marist will be thinking about how they handled the wind.