In their first ever trip to the America East Tournament Championship, the Fairfield field hockey team lost in overtime to the tournament’s number one seed, New Hampshire, by the final score of 3-2.

The Stags got down early, despite impressive play on the defensive end by Maddie Sposito ‘13 and Michelle Loor ’13. After scoring 15 minutes into the game, New Hampshire added another tally five minutes before halftime, putting the Stags in a 2-0 hole.

But Fairfield came out after halftime on a mission, and just six minutes into the second half, Felicitas Heinen ’15 scored her 15thz goal of the season, which led the team, and cut the New Hampshire lead to one.

After another save from Sposito, Christy Starsinic scored the game-tying goal at the 53rd minute, her sixth goal of the season. With over 10 minutes still to play in regulation, Fairfield was tied with the 20th ranked team in the nation, and a team that went undefeated during America East play.

The game would go into overtime where Sposito continued to play well, getting back-to-back saves, and keeping Fairfield’s season alive. But in the 79th minute, New Hampshire’s Meg Flatley scored the game winner, and ended Fairfield’s surprising season. Fairfield lost to New Hampshire by the same score earlier this season, that game finishing in double overtime.

Despite the early exit from the tournament, it was an overall successful season for the Stags. They won 10 games for the first time since joining America East, and had a brief stint in the top 25 poll, with numerous players earning awards. Heinen was named All-Conference First Team, while Shealyn Testa ‘14 was named All-Conference Second Team. Freshmen Kaitlyn Taddeo and Emily McCauley ‘16 were named to the America East All-Rookie Team, and Sposito and Loor were named to the All-Championship team.

“One word to describe this season is Progression,” said Emily Leo ’15. “We improved a lot this season as both individuals and as a team. We made a statement this year and made ourselves known.”

Leo called the loss to New Hampshire “One of the toughest loses I’ve ever been through with a team.”

“We were inches away from winning but you live and learn. I think this game and making the tournament makes us all want more out of next season and make us not want to settle for anything.”

Heinen, who described the season as “promising,” was overall pleased with their experience in the tournament. “Obviously we wished we had more than one game, but we knew it was going to be tough. And we came back in the second half from being down 2-0 and it was pretty cool,” said Heinen.

“I mean we had some highs and we had some lows but overall we improved so much. And I can see that the whole team is improving even further. So it’s good looking forward for the season,” Heinen continued.

Heinen called it the “icing on the cake” when she learned she was named to the All-Conference team. “That’s pretty cool,” said Heinen. “I think I tried to do my best as much as I could. I had some games where I knew that I didn’t do too well, but then the team around me picked it up, so that was awesome.”

It will be interesting to see if Fairfield can build on the progress that was made this year. They are only losing four total seniors, but two are the defensive stalwarts of Loor and Sposito, so their presence will be missed. However, the core team they leave behind showed how talented and balanced it could be this year, and will look to continue on their new winning ways next fall.

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