The Fairfield University men’s soccer team fell short to Manhattan College on Wednesday, Oct. 11 in a 2-1 decision at Lessing Field.
The Stags nearly pulled off the win, but the Jaspers’ had other plans. The Stags put the ball past the Manhattan netminder on three separate occasions, but on all three of those tries two Jasper defenders stood nearby and chucked the ball back towards midfield. These efforts left Fairfield clocking in on the score sheet just once on the outing.
The first sign of things to come came at the 13-minute mark, as defender Cody Read ‘26 nearly scored his second goal of the campaign by having a goal pulled away by the two defenders just inches away from the goal line. Manhattan responded with luck after the scare, as they found the back of the net at the 22nd-minute mark thanks to the efforts of Ayoub Boumelala to give the Jaspers a 1-0 lead.
Senior Forward Thomas Drillen led the herd with seven shots on the outing, with fellow forward Alex Marin ‘24 setting up the goal. Marin brought the ball down the left side of the pitch and cut down towards the goal before executing a cross kick that found a perfectly positioned Drillen, who deflected the ball off of his head into the goal for his second goal of the campaign. The goal came on his third shot of the game and at the 39-minute mark, propelling the Stags into the half with renewed optimism.
Manhattan spiked one past goaltender James Anderson ‘24 at the 52nd-minute mark, elevating them to the driver’s seat and firmly holding that grip for the rest of the game. Shortly after, Fairfield nearly tied the game thanks to a perfect setup from graduate student midfielder Malachy McGovern, whose shot deflected right at the back line by a Jasper defender.
Drillen also had a few chances that were stripped from him, as he had multiple instances where shots from both his foot and his head were shot down by the Jasper defensive machine. Despite their efforts, the Stags took home a disappointing 2-1 loss that they surely deserved to win.
“Thomas’ goal gave us a real lift,” Head Coach Carl Rees said, according to the game’s official press release. “All week we worked on penetration from wide areas and set up systems where we have numbers of situations which transpired today. I think we were able to get more quality balls from wide areas.”
Three nights later, on Saturday, Oct. 14, the Stags hosted Marist College in a conference showdown under the lights at Lessing Field.
The loss did come with some positives, as the Stags did a good job of navigating the ball around the field while executing efficient ball possession. They ended up with 15 total shots on the day, with four being stopped by Marist netminder Luca Bulfon.
The back-and-forth showdown between the two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) rivals began with a Stags goal at the 15-minute mark, as Drillen sunk in his second goal in as many games to give the Herd a 1-0 lead. The Auckland, New Zealand native capitalized off a masterfully placed pass from defender Kris Naicker ‘25, who executed spectacular ball possession at the top of the box before sending a through ball that cleared the back line and found Drillen for the equalizer.
Marist tied the game at the 37-minute mark off of an errant pass inside of the box to set him up one-on-one with Anderson. Despite Andersen’s efforts, one of the most offensively talented players in the MAAC secured his fourth goal of the season. No other action occurred in the first half as the game remained tied, 1-1.
However, Marist came firing out of the gate to begin the second half, as the Red Foxes scored just three minutes in at the 48th-minute mark off of the head from Joergen Thue Kristiansen that was shot from the corner by his teammate, Skyler Cuncha. Marist took a 3-1 lead thanks to a Bernardo Granindo goal at the 59th-minute mark. After a 10-minute scoring hiatus, the Stags were awarded a penalty kick. Fairfield unfortunately came up short as the ball went over the crossbar.
They did eventually get another opportunity, and on this chance, they finished. Thanks to capsizing control of the ball at the top left corner of the box, midfielder Sam Danner ‘26 shot from that point that just snuck just inside to make it a 3-2 game at the 79th-minute mark.
The Stags then put in a spirited effort at the end of the contest, as they dominated possession of the ball and tried to find many opportunities to finish. Sadly, the Red Foxes held firm by playing stout defense, which enabled them to secure the victory.
“We put forward another good performance against a strong Marist team,” Coach Rees said, according to the game’s official press release. “We matched them throughout the game and really created more clear-cut opportunities. The character traits of the team are positive and I am proud of the endeavor.”
Anderson finished the night with six saves while facing fifteen shots. The goaltender continued his efficient play as a bright spot for a program that is now 3-8-1 on the season.The Stag’s next matchup will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 18 against Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. For more information on the Fairfield University men’s soccer team, please visit www.fairfieldstags.com.