Last Wednesday, March 3, the Fairfield University men’s lacrosse team began their season in a showdown at Providence College. Although they battled hard until the end, they were unable to secure their first victory of the season.
With a final box score of 18-17, the Friars advance to an even 2-2 record while the Stags fall to 0-1. The game was back and forth throughout the entire match, until the Friars ended up scoring two insurance goals with less than three minutes left to steal the lead away from the Stags for the final time.
After a seemingly endless 51 weeks without lacrosse, head coach Andrew Baxter and his squad were greeted by a socially distanced Providence College student section. This was a surprise, as they figured they would be playing in front of an empty set of bleachers under the bright stadium lights.
Leading up to the game, electricity was in the air, as this was the first chance for the Stags to show everyone what they worked on over the long break from play.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect from the game itself, but there’s definitely a buzz among the team about getting back onto the field,” Baxter said.
Graduate student Matt Chlastawa felt the same way. “It felt unique to be able to do the pregame ritual, hop on a bus, and play competitively again,” Clastawa said. Finally, there is a sense of normalcy returning to college sports everywhere, and Fairfield athletics are no exception.
Frankie Labetti ‘21 acknowledged how the season is a bit different from past seasons, but has accepted the challenge. “We talk about controlling what we can control as a team, and one important thing was just bringing the juice as a unit,” Labetti mentioned.
A large part of coach Baxter’s philosophy as a leader is putting emphasis on the smaller victories and turning that positive energy into success. When a great play happens, Baxter calls it a “spark play”, and the team focuses on creating a scoring opportunity from it. Examples of a spark play could be a big save by the goalie or an impressive defensive play.
The new starting goalie for the men’s lacrosse team, Colin Consoli ‘24, proved to be the creator of many opportunities just like this, with a quick save and outlet pass that turned into a goal for the Fairfield offense early on into the game. Consoli made an impressive 16 saves in his collegiate lacrosse debut.
Although the team did not secure the result that they were hoping for, players up and down the field applauded their teammates’ efforts. Graduate student Travis Ford reflected on this idea after the game, noticing a key trend.
“The team gets a lot of momentum when there is a defensive stop, and it is when we can use that to take the ball down on the offensive half and score a goal that gets the team fired up,” Ford said. This was the case many times, as Taylor Strough ‘21 and Patrick Drake ‘22 both added three goals each in Wednesday’s contest.
Chlastawa, who netted two goals and one assist in Wednesday’s contest, wishes he could have a few of his shots back. “But again, we have coaches who help us break down the film, and we have to look forward just as much as we have to reflect on what we need to improve,” Chlastawa said.
Each and every day, the members of the team look to improve just one percent each day. Through this goal-oriented mentality, they are able to build up more momentum through film sessions, practices, and workout sessions so that they can be the best version of themselves every time they step out onto the field on gameday.
“We talk about working to get one percent better everyday as an individual and as a team, and I think if we can continue to work that process and stay true to Fairfield men’s lacrosse the better the results we will see,” Labetti commented. The team clearly will not let one loss get in the way of the long road ahead, which ends with a Colonial Athletic Association Championship taking place on May 8 at Hofstra University.
Improving little by little each day could mean something small that plays a large impact on the player’s well-being.
“Some guys need to work on shooting, some need to work on their stick work, and some need to work on sleeping an extra hour,” Baxter explained. “I think if we can cumulatively do that, then we’ll be in a better spot than we were on Wednesday.”
Even though a lot clicked on offense and defense, Coach Baxter realizes that there is still work to do on the field and in the film room. “I think part of that was nerves for the first game, and part is that we need more practice and more games to get those reps under our belt,” Baxter stated.
On Saturday, March 6, the Fairfield University men’s lacrosse team took on the University of Delaware Blue Hens, once again falling short of a win with a final score of 17-9. The Stags are now 0-2 on their season, but still have plenty of time to make adjustments and continue forth.
The Fairfield defense was surrounded by precision shooters of the Blue Hen’s offense, who scored a total of seven unanswered goals towards the end of the game. The Stags were held scoreless throughout the entire fourth quarter.
The Stags have a chance to correct their mistakes in their upcoming game, hosting the Lafayette College Leopards on Wednesday, March 10 at 4:00 p.m. This game will be played on Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium and will be streamed on Lax Sports Network.
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