After a scorching start to the season, the Fairfield University women’s soccer team has cooled off in their last three games.
The team experienced their lowest point of the season when they were shut out by University of Massachusetts at Amherst on a chilly Sunday.
Coach Jim O’Brien had only one word to describe the loss: embarrassing.
The team has now dropped to .500 after starting the season winning three in a row without allowing a goal.
Since then, the team has been outscored 8-1 and has been outshot 73-18 over that span.
Despite the recent slide, this team has shown promise. They nearly upset #22 Georgetown by managing to bring them into overtime, and held their own against Boston College, the fifth best team in the country.
At the start of the season, the Stags knew that this would be a difficult schedule due to the back-to-back games against nationally ranked teams. They knew that this season would truly be a test of their skills and depth.
“It’s always important for us to have a challenging non-conference schedule,” O’ Brien said.
The sixth year head coach has seen many successful teams at Fairfield.
He ranks second in wins on the all-time school list and has led the Stags to at least nine wins in each of his seasons and a NCAA Tournament bid in two of those years.
You can say he knows talent. And he sees the promise of this team, comparing them to the 2008 team.
That squad received 16 votes in the final NSCAA National poll by winning the MAAC championship and only losing by a goal in the Big Dance.
The one aspect of the game that he is most worried about is the team’s inability to bounce back after adversity.
“The way games are scheduled is to play Friday and Sunday, so you have to get over the tough losses.”
The ability to recuperate after these types of games defines the character of any team.
It would be hard for any group who just had a heartbreaking narrow upset to come back and play an even better school in less than a week.
However, O’Brien can see this now and is trying to improve early in the campaign.
The loss to UMASS might have been the wakeup call that the team needed.
“It’s back to the drawing board,” O’Brien sighed. If Fairfield is to be successful they are going to have to not just forget but learn from this “embarrassing” loss.
That journey will begin when the team travels to Stony Brook on Thursday. Maybe it is a change of scenery that will help propel this promising team and have all their talent pay off.