Fairfield hosted the Colgate Raiders on a cold, rainy afternoon at Rafferty Stadium on Saturday, March 14. The Stags snapped a three-game losing skid with a 13-9 victory, holding off a furious late onslaught from the Raiders. Head coach Andy Copelan’s side had dropped three straight one-goal decisions prior to this matchup.
Paced by an impressive offensive outing from Alex Corboy ‘17, the Stags dominated the opening half. Senior Tristan Sperry struck first at the 12:07 mark before Anthony Abbedessa ‘18 answered back to tie the game at 8:44. Fairfield woke up, scoring five unanswered goals before Colgate would find the back of the net again with 1:31 left in the first period. At the end of the first period, Corboy had a pair of goals – his first of the season – while Sperry also tallied two assists.
Colgate showed some life at the start of the second period, scoring less than a minute in to halve the Stags’ lead to 6-3. Fairfield sparked a run again, scoring four unanswered goals, including two more from Corboy, before the end of the first half. The Stags would take a comfortable 10-3 lead into the locker room.
Corboy netted four first-half goals, while Colin McLinden ‘15 and Sperry each had two assists and a goal to their names. Fairfield held a 16-11 advantage in shots in the first half, while forcing seven Colgate turnovers. Keeping the Raiders out of their zone was vital, as the Stags defense cleared the ball eight of nine opportunities.
“Alex (Corboy) is an obvious talent,” said Copelan. “Today was just his day, and if we can share the ball and spread that offense around, we can put up some pretty good numbers.”
The second half saw play slow down, and Colgate spend more time in the Fairfield half. Sophomore Jake Knostman broke the silence with a goal at the 5:03 mark in the third period. The Raiders would answer back two minutes later to make the score line 11-4, which Fairfield would take into the fourth quarter.
McLinden would net another at the top of the fourth period before Colgate would begin to turn the tables. The Raiders began desperately pressing their offense, allowing nearly zero possession for the Stags in the last ten minutes of the game. It would pay off, as the lead was chipped away with five unanswered goals. The fifth at the 1:32 mark would make it a 12-9 game, but it was too little too late for Colgate. Junior Charlie Schnider would score an empty netter for the Stags with a minute to play, cementing the 13-9 victory for Fairfield.
“I think we had 13 turnovers in the second half, so that obviously contributed to Colgate’s run,” Copelan said. “Coming off of a tough stretch here with these one-goal losses, we had to get back to just winning, and once we get this team clicking on all cylinders, we can be pretty good.”
Corboy netted four goals for Fairfield, his first four of the season, while McLinden and Schnider tallied two each. Sperry led the way with three assists and a goal of his own, and now totals 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) on the season. Colgate outshot the Stags 36-27, and also held the advantage in ground balls (31-27), face-offs (13-12), and turnovers (14-19), which Fairfield was able to overcome through their play in the first half.
“I give our seniors, our captains, and everyone in that locker room a ton of credit,” said Copelan. “There have been opportunities for them to fold like a chair, and never once have we felt like that feeling has crept in at all.”
Fairfield improves to 3-4 while Colgate now stands at 4-2. The Stags return to Rafferty Stadium on Saturday, March 21, playing host to Villanova at 5:30 p.m. The official dedication ceremony of Rafferty Stadium will be held at 4 p.m., before faceoff of this game.