Fall Ball Focus: A Therapeutic Time for Marist

PHOTO COURTESY OF MARIST ATHLETICS

Hunter Embury had eight goals and five assists in four games last season.


HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — There’s nothing Hunter Embury and the Marist men’s lacrosse team is taking for granted this year. The mundane bus ride from Poughkeepsie to Long Island, meeting as a full team in the locker room before competing in the Nick Colleluori Classic at Hofstra University — everything is special this year. 

That’s because virtually everything was taken away from the Red Foxes a year ago. 

No program, outside of teams in the Ivy League, was more affected by COVID-19 related cancelations than Marist, which opened a highly anticipated season with a win against Detroit Mercy and then had its next seven games canceled. 

As Embury watched former high school teammates from Yorktown (N.Y.) compete in the ACC, Big East and Big 10, the senior midfielder had to deal with yet another season without the sport he loves. 

“It was definitely frustrating. We would always try and watch as much lacrosse as we could while we were off, and it stung to see other teams getting opportunities, but you just have to play the cards you’re dealt,” Embury said. “It was unfortunate for us, but we’re happy to be back.”

The Red Foxes spent 45 days apart — no in-person meetings, no practices and obviously no games. Remarkably, when finally given the green light to resume from the school’s administration, Marist defeated rival Quinnipiac despite not even being afforded one practice in advance. 

That was a rare positive in a season coach Keegan Wilkinson called his program’s most challenging since the death of Eddie Coombs in 2011. Then a rising sophomore, Coombs died in a car accident in his hometown of Horsham Township, Pa., in August 2011. 

“The only true learning lesson we could take from that is sometimes life isn’t fair,” Wilkinson said. “When it seemed like it was, outside of the Ivy League, just Marist who was routinely not playing, it was a very quick lesson that sometimes you’re not going to get everything you hope for and we’ve got to make the best of what we do have, and I thought that guys did that. For that, I’m really proud of them.”







The fall has been therapeutic for Marist. The 16 practices and the opportunity to play LIU and Hofstra at Shuart Stadium was something welcomed with open arms. Even Long Island traffic didn’t faze the Red Foxes on this Saturday afternoon in October. 

“Just to walk in here today in one of the best lacrosse stadiums in the country and to be in the locker room with the guys is something that we were really looking forward to,” Wilkinson said. “We didn’t do that outside of one time last year ... just to get off the bus, get into a locker room and get ready for a big challenge in today’s slate is something that we’re really excited about.”

With midfielder Jason Intermesoli and attackman Vito Muso among the seniors returning for their fifth years, expectations are again high for the Red Foxes. The buzz around the program is back. 

But more importantly, and more simplified for Embury and his teammates, lacrosse is back. 

“I would say unfinished business [is the theme], and then also we’re back and we’re ready to go. We’ve got a full fall schedule ahead of us. We’re hoping for a full spring, so hopefully, fingers crossed, everything goes well, and we’re ready to go. We’re fired up,” Embury said. “I think we look as good at this stage of the game as we ever have in my years here, so I’m really excited to get going.”

MARIST AT A GLANCE 

Not that the Red Foxes lack motivation this season, but the team’s early, albeit understandable given the circumstances, exit from the MAAC tournament — Marist lost to Canisius by a goal in the quarterfinals — further fuels the fire. “The energy and the tempo and every lift, every practice, every meeting that we’re having, guys are just really thrilled to be back with one another in an in-person setting,” Wilkinson said. … While the biggest strength for Wilkinson is the aforementioned senior class, the biggest question might be at the faceoff X. The Red Foxes were spoiled with Peyton Smith, now playing with Redwoods LC in the PLL after being selected sixth overall in the 2020 College Draft, followed by Andrew Evans. Now there’s three players in freshman Dylan Bedell, sophomore John Kelly and junior Matt Fermo, a transfer from Pace University, in an open competition at the position. … There are 14 freshmen on the roster, including attackman William Embury, who joins twin brothers Hunter and Jamison on the squad. At Yorktown last year, he earned All-Section honors with 41 goals and 20 assists.

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