Eric Warden led the Stags with three goals to earn his first collegiate hat trick on Saturday, as the Stags defeated the Bryant Bulldogs 9-8 in double overtime.
After a Brent Adams goal tied the score at three with 27 seconds left in the first quarter, the Stags offense went silent for the vast majority of the second quarter, as Fairfield would go almost fifteen minutes without another goal. Eric Warden scored his second goal of the day to cut the Bryant lead to 6-4 as they went into halftime.
When asked whether it was poor offense on the part of the Stags, or a very good defense by Bryant, Stags junior Sam Snow believed it was a little of both.
“I think they have a really solid defense…but at the same time, I don’t think we shot the ball as well as we did last week,” said Snow. “Last week, for whatever reason, the ball was finding the back of the net, and this week it just wasn’t the same. The goalie made some great saves and we got a little down, but credit to both sides.”
Fairfield cut the lead back to one by the end of the third quarter, as Federico and Warden would score their second and third goals of the game, respectively.
Snow and John Snellman finally got on the board in the fourth quarter, as Snellman’s goal with 7:34 remaining gave the Stags the 8-7 lead for a brief time. Bryant tied the game with a goal by Cody Isdaner, who scored three times for the Bulldogs.
In the first overtime period, Fairfield failed to take advantage of three Bryant turnovers, as the teams traded scoreless possessions. Bryant came very close to sealing the win, getting off an open shot near the goal, but Stags goalie Charlie Cipriano made a game-preserving save to keep Fairfield alive.
“Charlie is honestly the backbone of this team,” said Copelan. “He’s fantastic.”
Snow was equally appreciative of the efforts given by Cipriano, who had 11 saves in the win.
“I’m so proud of him, he has worked so hard,” said Snow. “I know his sophomore year… he didn’t even start. Just to see how hard he’s worked, and not only to get that starting job, but to be in the race to be an All-American, is incredible.”
Cipriano, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Defensive Player of the Week, said he was just trying to stay calm and play well. “I’ve been in this position before,” he said. “The good thing is being a senior. I’ve been in overtimes before, so the big thing is to stay calm and hope our defense plays well, which they did. They played awesome.”
In the second overtime, the Stags finally broke through with a goal by Snow with 1:38 remaining. The goal, which came off an assist by freshman Colin McLinden, was Snow’s second of the game, and seventh on the season.
“I don’t even know if I caught it or if I slapped it, but all know is that the ball went in the goal,” said Snow of his overtime goal.
“It felt great. It wasn’t really the best game for me,” said Snow. “The credit really goes to our seniors.”
Everyone, from players to coaches, was pleased with the effort from the team in the overtime periods.
“I think we got a little more focused,” said Cipriano. “That’s crunch time once you get out there, and everyone showed up and played well.”
Coach Copelan was pleased to see the heightened awareness he saw out of his players. “If you looked at the guys in the eyes, you could tell they were really committed to winning that game,” said Copelan. “If we can play with that level of focus and magnify that intensity for sixty minutes, then hopefully we can prevent having to play in those overtime games.”
“Nothing came easy today, and the ability to draw from this experience will be really important as the season goes forward. This thing doesn’t get any easier,” said Copelan, adding that he was proud with the team’s undefeated record thus far, as they are now 3-0.
In the second overtime game of the week, John Snellman scored four goals as the Stags defeated Hofstra 10-9 in Hempstead. Brent Adams scored the game-winning goal 113 seconds into the third overtime, his second goal of the game.
Coming out of a timeout, Adams charged to the right side of the net, and scored from 10 yards out when the defender bit on the pass fake.
Snow added two more goals to bring his already impressive total to nine goals on the season, and is among the ECAC leaders in goals per game this season.
Tristan Sperry and Eric Warden each had a goal in the victory, and goalie Charlie Cipriano had a season best 16 saves.
This marks the first time that the Stags have played in back-to-back multiple overtime games, and Tuesday night’s win was the second longest game in program history. The last time the Stags played in two overtime games in a season was in 2005, when they split the decisions.
The Stags continue their road trip with University of Maryland Baltimore County, Quinnipiac, and Vermont. Their next home game is March 13 at 3 p.m. against Lafayette.