On Sept. 25, The Fairfield University field hockey team played Yale University in what would turn out to be a thriller. The game not only went into overtime, but ended up in a shootout that went into the ninth stroke instead of the usual five that shootouts usually take.

In the first quarter of the game, the Stags’ offense struggled, failing to get a shot on net. Yale, on the other hand, managed to get three shots. However, none of them got past sophomore goalkeeper Payton Rahn.

In the second quarter, the Stags were able to find more success offensively. Julianna Kratz ‘23 got her own rebound off of a blocked shot, scoring the first goal of the game to make the score 1-0. Fairfield’s defense also played better in the second quarter by not allowing any shots from the Bulldogs.

Yale stepped up coming out of the gate in the second half. They came out swinging with a goal in the thirty-seventh minute to tie the game up at 1-1. 

The fourth quarter would prove to be an exciting one; as both teams scored off of penalty corners. The Stags took the lead with a Pilar Mengotti ‘26 goal to make it a 2-1 contest. The Bulldogs then answered back with the equalizer with less than three minutes left on the clock, sending the game to overtime.

The Stags came out firing in overtime looking to put their opponent away. While it paid off on the stat sheet, they were unable to put their opponent away, even though they outshot them 4-1 in extra time. After the 20-minute overtime frame, the game went into a shootout. 

Rahn gave up the first three shots from Yale, but turned the tide by stuffing the next six shots which gave the Stags the edge and much-needed momentum. Augustina Casteluchi ‘25 scored what would be the game winner for the Stags in the shootout, giving them a 4-3 margin in the shootout, which in turn gave them the victory, 3-2. 

“Payton won the game for us. She learned from the first set and was resilient after that,” head coach Jackie Kane stated in the game’s official recap. “She had the confidence that nothing was going to get past her. She made it happen in the last round because she was able to handle the pressure,” she continued. 

Rahn played a great game which won her the Northeast Conference (NEC) defensive player of the week for the second time in her career. Rahn is currently seventeenth in the country with six saves per game and ranks thirty-seventh in the nation with a .72 save percentage. She is allowing 2.2 goals against per game on average as well.

Five days later, the Stags traveled to take on the cross town rival Sacred Heart Pioneers. The game started similarly to their battle against the Bulldogs, with a scoreless first quarter. Then things began to pick up.

The Pioneers scored first early into the second quarter with a goal just inches away from being saved by Rahn. This seemingly served as a wake up call for the Stags, who rattled off two goals in the next eleven minutes of play. Their first goal was by Kratz scoring in the twenty-fourth minute of the contest which tied the game. This was Kratz’s team-leading fourth goal of the season and tenth point of the year. Then just minutes later in the twenty-seventh minute, graduate student Nora Amme scored off of a deflection to give the Stags the lead going into the second half. 

The Stag’s offense was firing in the third quarter. They began the second half by peppering Sacred Heart’s goalkeeper Samantha Maresca with nine total shots, five of which were on the net and none of which resulted in a Stags goal. Maresca’s play gave the Pioneers a chance going into the final quarter of the game. 

The Pioneers would not go down without a fight, however, tying it up in the fifty-fourth minute of play. All hopes of another overtime thriller were dashed with a Stag goal in the fifty-fifth minute of play off a penalty stroke due to a Pioneer infraction. This gave the Stags a 3-2 lead, securing another close victory and their first in conference play.

Rahn played yet another great game with four total saves in the match, keeping the Stags in the lead and helping them to win. The Stags outshot the Pioneers 23-8 in the match and dominated on the stat sheet according to the game’s official recap. However, the only stat that matters, in the end, is the win, which is what the Stags took.

This brought the Stags to a 5-6 (1-0 in conference) record and dropped Sacred Heart to 0-10. The Stags will play their second NEC game on Oct. 7 at Rider University in Lawrence Township, N.J., at 7 p.m.

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