The Fairfield University women’s basketball team has been faced with unique challenges this semester related to COVID-19 complications and its impact on their season’s schedule. 

Right off the bat, the Stags’ Nov. 30 away game against Seton Hall University was canceled ten days before the contest, with no plans of rescheduling, as positive tests were reported by Seton Hall among their Tier 1 personnel. Per the Fairfield University Athletics website, “Tier I personnel includes student-athletes, coaches, and designated staff and administration.”

Their season-opener was slated for Wednesday, Nov. 25 against cross-town rivals Sacred Heart University, however it was postponed to the following Saturday on Nov. 28 after an inconclusive Coronavirus test was taken by someone in the Sacred Heart women’s basketball travel party. On Nov. 27 the game between the Stags and Pioneers was officially cancelled as a result of a positive test within Sacred Heart’s Tier I women’s basketball crew.

As a result of the cancelations, Fairfield added a home game against the University of Massachusetts Amherst which would be their long awaited first game of the season on Dec. 3.

Unfortunately, the 2020-21 Stags’ debut was a disappointment on the George Bisacca Court at Alumni Hall, with a disheartening 71-50 loss, however even getting an opportunity to play was an accomplishment for Fairfield. Despite the fact that the outcome is not what Stags fans were hoping for, certain players showed great promise.

Team captains Lou Lopez-Senechal ‘22, graduate student Katie Armstrong and Rachel Hakes ‘22 carried the team through, with the trio amassing a total of 36 points altogether. 21 of those were contributed by Lopez Senechal, while 11 were added by Armstrong and four were from Hakes. Against UMass, Armstrong’s 17 rebounds led to her recording her second double-double as a Stag. Hakes’ three steals and personal record setting nine assists was a testament to the fact that Fairfield’s offensive forces were strong. Senior Eden Nibbelink also showed up for her team, racking up a respectable six points during the Thursday night game. 

Considering this was their first matchup since March, with five new additions to the roster, the Stags held their ground and made some great plays which showed promising potential for the team. 

The Stags took to Hempstead, New York to face the Hofstra University Pride with a vengeance, and a thirst for redemption after their loss the week prior. They were on fire, setting a single game record for the program with a whopping 17 three-pointers.

Unsurprisingly, Lopez-Senechal, Hakes and Nibbelink led the charge again with 23, 17 and 15 points respectively. Hakes set new personal records with her 17 points-scored and 12 assists, making that her first double-double in her collegiate career. Graduate student Sam Lewis found herself atop the leaderboards during the afternoon game, having scored eight points and a personal record of eight rebounds. 

The Stags finished their trip with a 75-55 landslide victory over Hofstra, and will begin Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play with a newfound sense of confidence. The Stags will face Siena College for a pair of weekend games with the first scheduled for Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:00 p.m. 

Friday’s game will be available for streaming on ESPN3 while Saturday’s game can be watched on ESPN+.

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