After losing a tough match to the Manhattan Jaspers with one goal made in the last second in regulation last week, the men’s soccer team achieved their first conference victory with a score of 1-0 against Canisius on Saturday Oct. 3, making their conference record 1-1 and their overall record 2-3-4.

Goalkeeper Matt Turner ‘16 said, “After a disappointing result at Manhattan, a game most of us felt we should’ve won, we were all eager to get out there and prove that we are a contender for the MAAC title. We were motivated to get our first conference win and that lights a fire in your heart. A need to achieve that is greater than our fear of failure.”

The Stags were able to easily gain possession and played ferociously from start to finish. Changing up the plays forced the Griffs to work harder for the ball and this was due to the Stags’ combination of good defense and offense. Strategizing more spontaneously, there was also clear communication coming from both teams.

Both teams posed a threat and remained scoreless during the first half as Turner dove for three saves. Midfielder Diego Casielles ‘19 and forward Ben Wignall ‘18, who made five shot attempts, also had some close goal opportunities throughout the game.

Although the Griffs never lost their energy, the Stags were in better control of the plays. “Canisius is a team that thrives off of their energy that they create on the field and on the bench. As a team, we did a really good job of not letting them create any momentum and forced them to play our style of football,” forward Steven Valente ‘18 said.

When defender Kevin Byrne ‘18 was substituted early in the second half, Valente took possession of the ball 20 yards from the goal and placed it perfectly in the middle just in time for Byrne to come in and make a header to the upper corner within 65 seconds of the game. “I feel truly blessed to have scored my first goal for Fairfield on our home pitch and making it the game winner,” Byrne said.

A factor and quality that benefited for the Stags was patience on the ball in order to slow down the Jasper’s high energy and at the same time, moved the ball quickly on the ground. In the closing minutes, the Griffs were unable to find the equalizer and the Stags ended with a 13-7 shot advantage and the 1-0 shutout victory.

The Stags will travel to New Rochelle, New York, as they will face off against an Iona team who holds a 5-5-1 record and 1-2 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

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