In double overtime, Fairfield’s Tristan Sperry ‘15 was able to net the game-winning goal for the Stags as they took down the Delaware Blue Hens at Rafferty Stadium on Saturday, April 18.
Headed into the game, the Stags had just come off of a tough loss against Towson University, where they were defeated 7-8 on the home turf. Now, with a 2-1 conference record, the team was hoping to get the win against the Blue Hens, the only team in the Colonial Athletic Association without a win.
Despite being forced into double overtime, the Stags were successful in handling Delaware their fourth loss of the season, while improving their record to 3-1.
“We wanted to respond the right way to a tough loss and there were times when I thought we did,” said head coach Andy Copelan. “I’m disappointed in the fourth quarter and unsatisfied with the overall effort, but I’m proud of the fact that we got the 3-1 [record] in conference.”
Delaware’s Paul Urbank put his team up on top in the first couple minutes of the game, but Fairfield quickly responded with two unanswered goals by T.J. Neubauer ‘16 and Dave Fleming ‘17. Throughout the first quarter, the two teams played neck-and-neck, but with four seconds remaining in the first, Colin McLinden ’15 posted his first goal of the game and put his team ahead by 4-3 as they headed into the second quarter of the game. Freshman Will Fox dominated at center, controlling all eight face-offs in the first.
The second quarter was split between Fairfield and Delaware with each team netting two goals apiece. At the start of the third, Fairfield was up 7-5 and had outshot Delaware 18-13.
Five minutes into the third, Fairfield’s Jake Knostman ‘17 posted the eighth goal of the game, coming off of an assist from Drew Federico ‘15. Sperry scored his first goal of the game, putting the team ahead by 4, 9-5. Delaware was only able to get one past Tyler Behring ‘17 in the third quarter, while the Stags were able to get another two goals, coming off of the hands of Nick Guida ‘15 and another by Federico.
Headed into the fourth, the Stags were ahead 11-6. However, Delaware came out strong, scoring five unanswered goals, tying up the game 11-11 in the last quarter of the game. The Blue Hens outshot Fairfield 15-7, picked up 12 ground balls, and won four of the six face-offs.
“If I knew what happened during the fourth quarter, we would have fixed it,” said Copelan. “I just felt like they [Delaware] picked up momentum, they saw the ball a little more than we did, and they had a rhythm going.”
Headed into overtime, both teams struggled to get the ball into the net. Fairfield made three attempts, while Delaware made two.
As the second overtime began, the Stags were dominant as Fox captured the draw at center. Continuing on with this momentum, Sperry fired one at the net and got the goal the Stags needed to win the game.
Copelan added that he was pleased with the win, but had hope the game wouldn’t have been forced to overtime.
“I’m disappointed in the fact that we had 11 goals in three quarters, but we don’t score the 12th until the second overtime,” said Copelan. “Unfortunately, that has become a little bit of a pattern for Fairfield this year where we just haven’t finished the fourth quarter.”
Although the Stags were forced to play in double overtime to get the win, the win for Fairfield was huge. The Stags are now tied for first place in the CAA with Towson. Towson was undefeated until Hofstra, pre-season favorites, handed them their first loss. Since all CAA teams have at least one loss, there are no conference teams that have clinched a playoff spot. The playoff spots will come down to this coming weekend, which could lead to tiebreakers between the CAA teams. However, Copelan is hopeful that his team will secure a spot in the playoffs.
“If there’s anything that’s really encouraging, it’s that I don’t think that we’ve played our best lacrosse yet,” said Copelan. “So if we could do that when it matters most, I like our chances.”
This weekend, on Friday, April 24 at 7 p.m. The Stags will take on Hofstra for one of the most anticipated games of the season. The team will be honoring the contributions and efforts of their seniors at Rafferty Stadium.