Peter Caty/ The Mirror

Not long ago, after a statement victory against Hobart on March 27, men’s lacrosse’s head coach Andy Copelan paused for a second, and then tried to sum up his approach to a week of preparation after a win.

“We’re even harder on them after a win as we are after a loss,” Copelan said. “And Monday we’ll be no different.”

It’s hard to assess how Copelan approached a far shorter turnaround this weekend in the aftermath of the Stags’ loss to conference rival Loyola (Md.), the eighth ranked team in the nation, in a game that had obvious Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) standing and postseason implications.

Whether good, bad, or indifferent, the results fit the Stags just fine. Despite a sluggish start at the outset, Fairfield recovered by virtue of an emotional, late-game rally to secure a 12-9 win against Hartford, the team’s eighth of the season and its sixth in seven games.

“That’s one thing about this group that I’ve never had to worry about,” Copelan said. “I’ve never, ever once had to coach effort.”

Effort, however, did not lead to initial results, as the Stags found themselves in a back-and-forth tussle in the early goings against the Hawks, an American East opponent that had previously lost three of its last four games.

The game-changing moment came with just moments left in the third quarter, as junior midfielder Nick Baglio scored on a pass from junior attackman Doug Kuring, giving the Stags a one-goal lead and silencing a two-goal run by Harford.

Baglio would add another goal in the latter part of the fourth quarter, the last of which came at the conclusion of a dominant Fairfield stretch that included six consecutive goals and seven of eight.
Baglio finished the game with three goals and was one of three Stags to finish with a multi-goal effort, alongside fellow midfielders Brent Adams and Ryan Mulford
Aside from the strong offensive effort, the other encouraging sign of the second half was a return to the team’s strengths that pervaded its winning ways prior to the setback to Loyola (Md.): defense and goaltending.

Goalkeeper Joe Marra made eleven saves in the win, marking the fourth game this season that the senior has totaled double-digit saves. At game’s end, Marra stands as the conference leader in save percentage (.613) and second overall in cumulative saves (111).

The late game surge, it would seem, now gives the Stags an ideal opportunity to erase Saturday’s loss and move forward with an eye on a late-season conference surge.

“I don’t want this loss to diminish what we’ve already accomplished,” Coplen said. “I love those guys in the locker room. I think we’re going to continue to just build this thing until we get to a level that we are pretty pleased with,” he added.

Overall, though, Copelan stressed that the weekend provided a learning experience for a team just beginning to become acclimated to national attention and conference awards.
“I thought the big stage got to us a little bit,” Copelan said. “I thought we had some jitters. I thought we were a little careless. We made some mistakes that we hadn’t been making in recent games, but I’d also attribute that to a pretty good Loyola ballclub. They have some guys that have some real, big time game experience under their belts.”

The Stags return to conference play this weekend with the team’s first game against Air Force, a newfound ECAC opponent. Following that, the team returns home to Connecticut for a showdown against Denver, the conference’s other prominent threat, on April 24.

The game, which will be featured on ESPN, will be played at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Conn., the site of this season’s inaugural ESPNU Warrior Lacrosse Classic.

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