On Wednesday, Oct. 14, the men’s soccer team defeated Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rival Siena 2­-0. It was a cold night, and the pitch at Lessing field was wet, but that did not slow down the Stags who were determined to make a postseason push. The Stags entered the game at 3­-4-­4, with a 2­-2-­0 record against MAAC opponents.

“There’s a bit more grit in these games,” said Justin Lewis ‘16 on playing MAAC rivals. “Out of conference games are important too. Here we’re fighting for spots down in Florida.” The MAAC postseason tournament is held in Florida this year with seeding based on regular season conference records.

The Stags struck early, with forward Ben Wignall ‘18 scoring in the fourth minute of the game off an assist from fellow forward Lewis. Lewis had a very big game, helping keep the Stags in possession on offense and providing two assists in the game.

The Stags were efficient on offense, scoring twice with only three shots on goal all game. On defense, the Stags were aggressive. They pressed Siena players, giving them no easy outlets to pass the ball, and killing any momentum the Saints had on offense in the first half. “I thought it was a good performance on both sides of the ball,” said head coach Carl Rees.

In the second half, Fairfield brought an extra man down from midfield and crowded the area in front of their own goal. This strategy from Rees would give Siena more time with the ball, but not a greater opportunity to score. The Fairfield defense, led by goalkeeper Matt Turner ‘16 held firm. Turner collected three saves in the shutout win, keeping calm in the face of Siena’s pressure.

This aggressive attack by Siena on offense left them exposed on the back end and eventually they had to pay. With less than nine minutes to play, midfielder Steven Valente ‘18 scored off another assist from Lewis to push the Fairfield lead to 2­-0. The score effectively ended any hope of a Siena comeback.

“We’re getting people healthy, we’re getting some momentum. We want to stay humble, keep working hard and keep developing. We’ll put ourselves in a position in Florida to get back to the championship game and finish the business we didn’t quite get done last year,” said Rees.

The win improved Fairfield to 4­-4-­4 with a 3­-2-­0 record in MAAC play. After facing a tough out-of-conference slate early in the year that included teams such as University of Maryland-­Baltimore County and Florida International University, Fairfield’s record is starting to better reflect the team.

With the post season looming, the Stags appear to be peaking at the right time. The team is in a prime position to make a run in the MAAC tournament. After a double-overtime tie against Monmouth this past Saturday, Oct. 17, the Stags will continue MAAC play as they are set to go on the road to take on in-state rivals Quinnipiac on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

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