Last season, the Fairfield men’s lacrosse team was forced to deal with one of the biggest upsets the team had ever faced when the fourth-seeded University of Massachusetts Amherst took down the first-seeded Stags in the semi-final round of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament at Rafferty Stadium.

Despite the tough loss at the conclusion of the season, the Stags were still one of the most powerful teams in the CAA, leading the conference with four wins and the highest winning percentage.

They were crowned the regular season champs with three Stags being named All New England, and Will Fox ‘18 named the top freshman of the CAA last season. For the fourth consecutive season, they ranked nationally and then went on to knock off a nationally ranked team in their matchup against Villanova. The Stags, who in a pre-season poll were picked to finish third in the league, ended up in first, finishing above Hofstra, who was picked to finish first in the 2015 preseason poll.

Once again, history has repeated itself and Fairfield has been voted to finish third in the season, falling just one point behind Hofstra. According to the poll, which is voted upon by the six head coaches of the CAA, Towson — the CAA Championship Defending Champs — has been voted to finish atop the conference.

However, the Stags are no strangers to overcoming the obstacles of being the underdogs. They were the newest team to the CAA conference last season and this year, after a year of playing against now familiar opponents, the team is hopeful to finish out this upcoming 2016 season on top once again, despite the preseason poll.

The team has a lot to look forward to including the return of three dominant players who will also be filling the position of tri-captains. Senior TJ Neubauer has consistently brought the team huge success as a starting midfielder, leading the Stags with 31 goals in the 2015 season.

As a two-year captain, Neubauer’s experience will be key. Midfielder Charlie Schnider ‘16 ended his season tallying 17 goals before a season-ending injury. He will be back on the field this upcoming spring and is expected to make huge contributions along with his teammate, Jake Knostman ‘17, who netted 17 goals and even a hat trick in the in-season game against UMass.

Fox will be making his return after having one of the most successful seasons a freshman could ever ask for. Not only was he deemed the CAA Lacrosse Rookie of the Year, he also was named the CAA Rookie of the Week five different times. He led the team with 52 ground balls and posted a .586 faceoff win percentage. Nationally, he was ranked No. 14 for his win percentage at the faceoff. With a year of experience under his belt, Fox should continue to be one of the stronger players for the Stags.

The 12 freshmen new to the roster will be vital for the team if they hope to continue on with the success that they have seen in the past years. Head coach Andy Copelan, who was named the CAA Coach of the Year, will look to give these new Stags the experience they need to be successful on the field as the team prepares to play one of their more difficult schedules.

The team will take on five nationally ranked teams to better prepare themselves for CAA conference play. If successful, the team will look to finish their season not only in first, defying the preseason vote, but also take back what they fell short of last year: the CAA Conference Championship crown. The Stags are set to begin their season on Feb. 14 against Richmond at Rafferty.


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