The Fairfield University men’s soccer team’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference home slate got underway this week with a home match against Niagara University on Saturday, Oct. 2. The match was a matinee affair, with a 2 p.m. kickoff after an early morning of showers in Fairfield.
The Stags had previously played two games against conference opponents, with away matches at Mount St. Mary’s University and Rider University the previous two weekends. They lost the matches 2-1 and 2-0 respectively and were looking to get their first MAAC win of the season under their belt.
The match started with Fairfield maintaining the bulk of possession, which would become a trend that would continue throughout the game. They had a great chance just four minutes in when forward Alex Marin ‘24 received the ball inside the box and turned to shoot. However, he was slightly off balance and leaned back just a little too much, sending his left-footed shot sailing just over the crossbar.
The Purple Eagles opened up the scoring four minutes later when a through ball skipped past the Fairfield defenders and was slotted home by the Niagara striker. Fairfield would continue to keep the foot on the gas for the rest of the first half, pressing deep into Niagara’s half and continuing to test the goalie with shots, but they were unable to even up the scoreline heading into the break.
The Stags came out of halftime looking to get a quick goal and almost did when Asher Rosen ‘27 hit a rocket from outside the box just one minute into the second half. The shot was just high, however, it looked like the goalie might have just gotten a finger on it, and it deflected off of the bar and out of play.
The Purple Eagle’s goalie continued to foil the Stags chances when he made two extremely difficult saves, one from a Dylan Medeiros ‘26 header and another from Thomas Drillien ‘24. Niagara would go on to slot one more past the Fairfield keeper, sealing the 2-0 victory.
“I think we could have scored a goal early and should have had at least two or three goals based on how we attacked,” Head Coach Carl Rees said according to the game’s official recap. “We need to have more composure in the final third. I think [it] created more chances but this sport can be very punishing.”
Although Fairfield ended up losing, they outshot their opponent 16 to five. In addition, they had nine shots on goal, a much higher number than Niagara whose only two were the goals they scored. Niagara’s goalie Jamie Barry had a stellar performance in which he had a career-high nine saves.
The Stags had many would-be shots deflected or blocked before they could reach their target, as Niagara was packing the box and bringing back their midfield during many Fairfield attacks. They also out-possessed Niagara and had possession inside their opponent’s half for most of the time they had the ball.
The win was the first for Niagara on the season, and they will look to build upon it when they face off against Siena College at home next Saturday. Will Pierce ‘26 has been in great form as of late, and although a strong performance wasn’t enough to push the Stags to victory, he was awarded MAAC Rookie of the Week earlier this season as recognition for his excellent play.
The team has had a tough time getting their footing to start the season, but looks to get back on track when they travel to Buffalo, N.Y. to take on Canisius College this Saturday, Oct. 7. It is another afternoon game with play slated to begin at 1 p.m.