Tom McKiver/The Mirror

With 12 minutes remaining in the game, the Stags were on the verge of their season’s first losing streak. Lock Haven, out of the Atlantic 10 conference, clung to a 1-0 lead and the Stags were struggling to find offense.

“We knew that we were going to score- there was no doubt in our mind,” said head coach Jackie Kane.

In the blink of  an eye, senior Marit Westenberg deflected a pass into the goal tying the game at one, igniting the crowd and forcing overtime.

“It was great, that was just what we needed, we knew we were going to get the game after that,” said Westenberg.

After the goal, the momentum shifted and the Stags were able to control possession for the rest of the game. Eleven minutes deep into the first overtime period, freshmen Felicitas Heinen ripped a shot into the back of the net off of a beautiful feed from Shealyn Testa.  Heinen was immediately mobbed by her teammates at midfield, and the celebration ensued.

“It always feels good to score goals, but for the team it was amazing and we are building up confidence,”  said Heinen.

Confidence is key for this Stags team, who, with the win, now own a program best 8-3 record. Last Friday night the Stags lost a heart breaker to New Hampshire, the 15th ranked team in the nation, by a count of 2-0.

“I think our girls learned that we developed into such an area that we can actually compete in the American East. Once we saw that we could compete against them, we started turning it on,” said Coach Kane.

One of the main positives from the New Hampshire game was the defense. New Hampshire came into the game scoring 3.99 goals per game, which was good for third in the nation.  Yet, the feisty Stag defense was able to hold New Hampshire to just two goals, one being in the final minutes as Fairfield pulled their goalie in an attempt to get an extra player on attack.

“We came out really scared for the first five minutes, and that’s how they scored, but then we came back, and I don’t think we have ever played that good against a ranked team,” said Westenberg, who is one of the captains on the team.

The contest against Lock Haven was another grind-it out, who is going to bend first type of game. Lock Haven got on the board late in the first half, when Leslie Ahern shred through the defense and found the back of the net. However, it was the persistent play of the Stags that kept them in the game.

“I think that’s what our team has: a lot of heart,” said Kane

Fairfield outshot Lock Haven 6-0 in the second half, and Westenberg’s team-leading sixth goal of the year tied it at one before Heinen’s fifth goal of the year gave the Stags the 2-1 win.

“Our overall work ethic and the quality hockey that we played should give us a lot of confidence going forward into Albany next week,” said Kane.

The Stags now enter the most crucial part of their schedule. Four of their final seven games are against conference opponents and three of the four conference opponents are ranked in the national top twenty.

The Stags are showing no signs of weakness, and their captain is representing the groups’ attitude going into this challenging stretch of games.

As Westenberg phrased it, “I think Albany, BU, Vermont and Maine should be scared. We are coming out, and we are coming out hard, and we are coming out to get to the (Conference) tournament.”

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