Fairfield struggled to get past Rider’s defense, who held the Stags scoreless and picked up the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game victory 3-0 for their fourth consecutive MAAC win.

Before the start of the game, Fairfield honored its seniors: Steven Gadze, Justin Lewis, George Newton, James Taylor, Matt Turner and Nick Whyte. The class of 2016 has been successful in their four years together compiling a total of 27 victories and posting a .538 winning percentage.

The match started off slowly as both teams’ defenses were cracking down on one another. Less than 10 minutes into the start of the game, Fairfield had an opportunity to score when Dominic Marshall ’17 made his way past Rider’s defenders for a shot attempt, but Rider’s goalkeeper Ryan Baird was able to block the shot. The Stags had another opportunity just nine minutes after their previous attempt as Jordan Emsley ’18 shot just wide of the net.

Midway through the first half, Rider gained possession and made a run toward the net. For Rider, Rob Nardiello held the ball from outside the box and cut inside. He sent a cross to the near post that found Justin Veltri, who converted the cross with a header to give Rider the first goal of the game. Fairfield answered back with their own shot, but Rider was there for the save. Rider held a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

Although Rider led, Fairfield played solid defensively throughout the first. “When we had our shape set up, our defense looked good for the majority of the first half apart from that first goal. Then we started committing more numbers forward and Rider did a good job of sitting in and countering on us and taking advantage of a number of opportunities,” said Turner of his team’s defense.

Six minutes into the start of the second half, Rider would convert on another opportunity to give them a 2-0 lead. Once again Nardiello sent a cross that found its way toward the feet of Christian Flath who pushed past the reach of Turner. “It’s tough, after you make a save and a rebound, and it just fell in. You come out on fire when you’re down one goal in the second half and you’re throwing numbers forward and then to get caught in the counter takes a lot out of you,” said Turner after allowing Rider’s second goal.

Rider added another goal three minutes later to push their lead to three. Fairfield had a few opportunities to score, but just couldn’t get the ball to roll their way as Rider came away with the 3-0 shutout victory.

“We showed good character. We didn’t give up. I mean it’s tough being at home two goals down with 40 minutes in front of you and then to go three goals down. [I think] we still showed character toward the end. We were still creating chances, still going forward, putting effort in. [[If] we take that into the next two games now and hopefully come away with six points and give ourselves a good chance in Florida,” said team captain Newton of the team perseverance.

The Stags will host their final home game on Wednesday, Oct. 28 as they host St. Peter’s followed by an away game as they travel to take on Niagara on Saturday, Oct. 31.

“Two games left, I think they’re two winnable games if we get good results there. It’ll put us in a good position for Florida. We’ve got to get some momentum going so we get going by the time we get down there,” said Newton.

Fairfield hopes to add points in order to avoid the MAAC tournament play-in round as they strive to finish in the top five of this year’s standings.

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