Beginning a season with a tough non-conference schedule can prime a team for conference play, for Fairfield women’s field hockey it may have done just that.

Despite a slow start to the season, the team has stepped up and won three of their last four conference games.

The momentum began with conference victories against Robert Morris University and Monmouth University two weeks ago to begin a late-season playoff bid.

The team then picked up their third conference victory Thursday against Siena 3 – 1, but could not maintain the momentum as they lost 2 – 1 to Sacred Heart in their final home game on Sunday.

“Team morale is still great,” said Thomas, “We are still expecting to go to the

tournament and if we can carry the momentum we’ve built up we will get

there.”

Kelly Rath ’06 scored the lone Stag goal for her sixth of the year and goaltender Lauren Callaghan ’08 recorded two saves in the losing effort.

During the team’s late-season rally, many players have stepped up such as Rath who recorded two assists against Siena and Emily Janis ’09 who won Rookie of the Week honors following the Monmouth game with two goals.

“We’ve been playing our hearts out and finally coming up with some great finishes,” said goaltender Liz Thomas, ’08, “Also a few key players have recovered from injuries which have helped to reinvigorate the team.”

One of the factors in Fairfield’s turnaround is the recent offensive explosion, recording 13 shots in the first half against Robert Morris and five goals in the second half.

Briana Keene ’08 contributed to the offensive onslaught recording a hat trick against a feisty Monmouth defense and helping lead the Stags to a second place tie in the conference.

“Our Sacred Heart loss was very devastating to all of us, as they are always a major rival of ours, but I believe we have learned from our

mistakes and we are getting ready for our last few games of the season,” said Keene.

Keene leads the team in goals with 8, and in points with 18.

While many might believe that the 5 – 10 overall record would signal disappointment and underachievement, Head Coach Jackie Kane takes a different view.

“We had two terrific wins this weekend,” said Kane, ” We outscored two NEC teams by a margin of 8 – 1. Our tough non-conference schedule as definitely prepared us well for our conference. The win over Dartmouth also solidified our team’s confidence. Our win reflects a team effort.”

The Stags face a challenge for the remainder of the season, playing their final four games on the road against University of Rhode Island, Rider, Lock Haven and St. Francis.

“Our league is very competitive and we all want to win the championship,” said Keene, “It will come down to the team who will fight for it harder and put their heart into every second of these final games to pull off a win. I know our team has the full ability to make it to the NEC tournament again as well as the determination to become NEC champs and head to the NCAAs!”

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