Junior Jordan Greenfield scored four goals, the final one coming with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, to help the Fairfield men’s lacrosse team hold off Air Force and earn the 9-8 victory last Saturday afternoon at Lessing Field.
After Air Force took the early 1-0 lead, Fairfield responded with three straight unanswered goals over the next six minutes.
With a man-up advantage, the Falcons were able to cut the lead to 3-2, but Fairfield again responded with two more goals to close out the quarter with the 5-2 advantage. Greenfield scored two of his four goals on the day in the first quarter, both unassisted, and sophomore Tristan Sperry added his 16th goal of the season, which is second on the team to Greenfield’s 27.
Fairfield had its largest lead of the afternoon when Marshall Johnson ’13 netted his fifth goal of the season, giving the Stags the 6-2 advantage. The four-point lead would not last long, as just over a minute later, Air Force answered with a goal of their own, cutting the lead back to three for Fairfield. The score would remain that way for the rest of the period, as Stags’ goalkeeper Jack Murphy ‘15 got four of his 12 saves on the day in the final seven and a half minutes.
The third quarter started similar to how the second quarter ended, with stubborn team defense and solid goalie play by Murphy, as neither team was able to break through and score until there was under three minutes remaining in the quarter, when Air Force’s Kyle Cassady scored to bring the Falcons back within two. They would strike again with under a minute remaining to cut the lead to one, going into the fourth quarter.
Greenfield scored his third goal of the day just seven seconds into the fourth quarter, taking a pass from Michael Roe ’14 and burying it in the back of the net to bring the lead back to two. The teams traded goals until Air Force was able to put two unanswered goals into the net in a little over a minute, tying the game at eight with 51 seconds remaining.
Roe won his ninth faceoff of the game after Air Force’s game-tying goal, and less than twenty seconds later, Colin McLinden ’15 found Greenfield at the side of the goal, setting him up for his fourth goal of the day to give the Stags the lead for good, as they held on to win 9-8, keeping their ECAC Tournament hopes alive.
After the game, Head Coach Andy Copelan called the game a “typical Fairfield – Air Force game.”
“It honestly reminded me a lot of last year, when we went up early, we were excited to play, and in typical Air Force fashion, they are never going to go away,” said Coach Copelan. “I knew that even with a three-goal cushion at halftime that we weren’t out of the woods.
“I wish we would’ve been able to pull away a little more, we had maybe a 20 minute stretch where we were prettysloppy offensively, but I think if we can button that up, I think we got the pieces to keep improving from this moment, and stretch our season as long as it can go.”
The Stags, who came into the contest at 6-5 on the season and had suffered two straight losses to ECAC conference foes Bellarmine and reigning national champion Loyola Maryland, needed a victory to stay among the top four teams in the ECAC standings.
“Well we needed this one, and we got some help with Hobart beating Bellarmine, so what it means is that, at the end of the day, we have to get one of the next two [games] to get to 4-3, and then I think we should feel fairly comfortable,” said Coach Copelan.
But the victory, which when combined with Hobart’s double overtime win over Bellarmine keeps Fairfield in the playoff picture, is especially cherished as it came on Senior Day, when the five seniors were honored in the best way their team knew how to honor a teammate: with a victory. The seniors, Gordie Wells, Matt Rubertone, Dan Niebler and captains Sam Snow and Marshall Johnson, were able to fare better than past Fairfield teams on Senior Day, as the team has not won on Senior Day since 2009.
“It’s a meaningful win … to recognize five pretty special individuals, our seniors,” said Coach Copelan. “If you go back over the last four years, I don’t think Senior Day has been too kind to us, but today it was, so I’m glad that those guys have that memory.”
Greenfield said that the players had been working all week to win this one for the senior class, and to finally get a win for the seniors will hopefully give the team some momentum going into the final two games of the year.
“It has been an up and down season,” said Greenfield. “We had some big wins early in the year, and then some tough losses. I think to get this one and keep our season going really gives us a boost going into two big conference games
With two weeks remaining, Fairfield plays Denver and Ohio State, both on the road. The Pioneers and Buckeyes sit at first and third in the conference, respectively, and own a combined record of 18-5 on the year, making the Stags’ win over Air Force that much more important, as they have a tough road ahead, facing two of the top teams in the nation in the coming weeks.
“Right now, we’re going to enjoy this one for the next couple nights, and we got our hands full out at Denver and at Ohio State, but we also got a couple real opportunities there too, so hopefully we can continue to play well and get back up to Geneva,” said Coach Copelan.
Fairfield travels to Denver first, taking on the Pioneers this Saturday at 3 p.m. (ET). Denver has not lost an ECAC Conference game this season, and are coming off a 13-12 win in overtime against Loyola.