The lacrosse gods could not have given Stag Country a better day to watch Fairfield University’s home opener against the nationally ranked Rutgers University Scarlet Knights on Saturday, Feb. 25. A picturesque sunny day at Rafferty Stadium was only dampened by an 8-3 Stag loss in front of hundreds of fans waiting to see the 2017 edition of Fairfield lacrosse.
In the first 15 minutes of action, the Scarlet Knights set the tone for the contest as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the frame. The Fairfield offense was being stymied by a stout Rutgers defense and the Stag defense seemed to have no answer for the offensive gameplan of the Big Ten power.
The Rutgers lead would stretch to 5-0 before Joe Rodrigues ‘18 would put the red and white on the board with under eight minutes to play in the second quarter. But the celebration was short lived as the Scarlet Knights would tack on two more goals in the last minute and a half of the second quarter to bring the lead to 7-1 heading into the break.
In need of a spark coming out of the locker room, Fairfield looked like a different team when the faceoff entered the second half. Just minutes into the second half, quick goals from Alex Wagner ‘20 and Colin Burke ‘19 put the Stags right back into the game with a 7-3 deficit and over 25 minutes of lacrosse to play.
For the rest of the quarter, the game was at an offensive stalemate, with each team trading blows at the defensive end. Highlighted by impressive stops from both team’s goalies, the remaining time in the third quarter went scoreless.
With one quarter left to the play, Fairfield knew that they had to get on the board quickly if they were going to make a run and cut into the Scarlet Knights’ lead. After seeing numerous shots on goal that went wide or bounced off the crossbar, it was clear that the Stags did not have it on Saturday. Rutgers would tally an insurance goal with 10 minutes to play to make the final score of the contest 8-3. Senior goalie Tyler Behring posted 16 saves in the loss.
“We are a big work in progress offensively right now,” head coach Andy Copelan said. “Two out of our three games we have reached three goals and you are not going to win games when you have an output like that.”
As with every loss, there is usually something positive that can be taken away from a defeat. For Copelan, the veteran coach was pleased with the way his guys fought especially in the later stages of the game.
“If there is any silver lining to this whole thing, I liked how hard we played in the second half,” Copelan said. “We really competed hard down the stretch.
The Stags have an opportunity to get back to their winning ways this Saturday, March 4 when they travel to Stony Brook, N.Y. to take on the Seawolves for a 1p.m. faceoff.