In less than two weeks, both the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams will be able to play the game they both know best in Fairfield’s new, state-of-the-art stadium.
As both teams steadily become driving forces in competitive national play, the stadium will reflect the team’s devotion to becoming one of the top lacrosse programs in the nation.
Last season, Fairfield’s women’s lacrosse ended their successful season 12-5 and were one of the two teams crowned the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season champs after a tie with the Marist Red Foxes. They made it to the semifinal game of the final tournament, and seven of the athletes on the team earned All-MAAC honors. This season, according to the coach’s poll, the Stags have been voted to finish third in the MAAC, but the team is hopeful that returning stars like Chelsey Sidaras ‘16 and Meghan Reda ‘15 will get the team the MAAC Championship they’ve been looking for. Playing in the new stadium could give the team the push they need to get where they want to be.
“The stadium adds a whole other element. Even just playing out there, the surrounding part of the stadium, just adds excitement,” said Reda. “I think it’s really a great experience to have and going out there my last year and playing in a stadium that the alumni and organization put together is really awesome.”
Men’s lacrosse had an outstanding season and, after the turnout at the conclusion of the season, Rafferty Stadium will just be another factor that helps the Stags become a national, driving competitive force. According to an online Fairfield University Magazine article, Fairfield University’s quarterly publication, Associate Vice President for Facilities David Frassinelli said that Alumni Field was “simply inadequate.”
The men’s team finished their season 12-4, tying the program wins for most number of victories during the season. Fairfield was crowned co-champions in the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament and were the top-seeded team in the tournament. They made it to the final round of play before Air Force knocked the Stags out of the way from a National Collegiate Athletic Association berth by one goal. Goalie Jack Murphy ‘14 was one of the several athletes to receive national recognition for outstanding play and hopefully, Rafferty Stadium will give the team what they need to get back the NCAA berth they knew they deserved last year.
“This stadium is the next step in the program’s continuation to being a contending program among the other top tier programs in Division 1 lacrosse,” said Tristan Sperry ‘15. “The stadium will build our program, gain more recruits and make the school look more attractive.”
The stadium will be equipped with bleachers lining both sides that can seat up to 3,500 people, concession stands and even a press box that includes two VIP suites. There will be locker rooms for the visiting team, cameras at centerfield for broadcasting and both the sound and lighting will be of higher quality, which will improve the situation for both the athletes on the field and the surrounding fans and neighbors. Finally, there is a new scoreboard, which women’s lacrosse Head Coach Mike Waldvogel added is one of the most attractive features of the new field. The program believes that this stadium will change not only the way that Fairfield sees lacrosse, but the way that everyone regards Fairfield lacrosse as a competitive program.
“This stadium is going to be fantastic,” said Waldvogel. “The thing is, we recruit people as young as sophomores and so when they’re looking at schools, they’re not looking at the nursing program or the business program yet, they’re looking at facilities. And with this, this stadium makes a big difference.”
With a more attractive stadium containing state-of-the-art equipment, Fairfield hopes that to be able to recruit talented athletes, which would make the project worthwhile. Fairfield will also now be able to host conference championships and high school championships, which will draw more people to the school. All of these benefits would not have been possible without the alumni’s commitment to the program.
“My favorite part of this stadium is just that the alumni care so much about this program that they came together and put together such an amazing stadium for us to play on,” said Reda. “It’s an honor.”
Both teams are scheduled to take on their first day in Rafferty Stadium on Feb. 14. Men’s lacrosse will take on Holy Cross at 12 p.m. and the women will take on Sacred Heart at 3 p.m.