The seniors were supposed to be standing tall after they were recognized and honored before their last home game. Instead, some of the members of the Fairfield University men’s lacrosse team were hunched over, not wanting to take off their helmets while forcing back tears.
“It’s tough,” senior attack man Doug Kuring said. “We’re all best friends, been together for four years. [We’ve] really come together. We just wanted to get this one.”
The Stags suffered yet another one goal loss, this one coming against #8 Hofstra. The defeat drops their record to 6-6. It was the final game at home for some of the players, but it wasn’t the outcome that they had hoped for.
“The seniors have stuck together these last four years and it’s tough to go out this way,” senior Nick Baglio said.
The loss is hard enough to accept, but the fact that they lost by just a single goal again makes it tougher. Fairfield has now lost four games by one goal, and two of their last three decisions coming against nationally ranked teams.
“Emotionally, it just sucks,” senior defender Sean Bannon said. “It just shows that we got to play a sixty minute game. When you lose by one, you look at every little thing. It’s tough but you learn from this feeling.”
But they are getting closer.
For a team that was struggling to score goals all season, they tallied seven against the best defensive unit in the nation. Hanging around and barely losing to a top 10 team can add confidence to any team, especially one who is about to face the most important stretch of their season.
The job to get the Stags back on track and get the team focused on these vital contests will fall into the hands of third year head coach Andy Copeland.
“It’s going to be painful here the next couple of days,” he said. “Our guys just got their heart broken. We’re going to give them a couple of days… then it’s going to be right back to work.”
The seniors will be playing in arguably their most important games of their careers. Fairfield will end the season against two nationally ranked teams in Ohio State and Denver, with both contests being on the road. They have to win one of those in order to clinch a spot in the ECAC tournament. The squad is well aware of how important these games are.
“Those are kind of like our national championship games,” Sean Bannon said.
The seniors entered Fairfield with the goal to win an ECAC championship. As their final year comes to a close, they have not accomplished it. Not yet. But their dreams are coming closer and they can see it. When a squad goes through the kinds of ups and downs that the Stags have experienced, they need players and coaches to lead and motivate. That’s where the seniors come in. They were disappointed after the game, but Coach Copeland knows that their goal is more than just to win on Senior Day. It’s to win an ECAC tournament for the upperclassman. He hopes that this motto will motivate the squad.
“This senior group makes it very easy for guys to just work hard for,” he said. “I am motivated as I’ve been personally to try and make sure that those guys go out on the right foot.”
Their entire Fairfield career comes down to two more games. With just one win, they will become a step closer in fulfilling their ECAC dreams. The eleven seniors might be done playing on Lessing Field, but they hope they can bring a title home, senior Doug Kuring said.
“I can speak personally and I can honestly say for the rest of the team [that] it’s going to be pretty intense,” he said. “These last two games they mean a lot to us: it’s us going into the postseason so expect some good things.”