Nine Fairfield seniors were honored in what would be their last game at Rafferty Stadium with a special ceremony surrounded by friends and family prior to Saturday’s matchup against Niagara. Unfortunately, the ceremony would be the highlight of Saturday afternoon as the Stags offensive attack was frustrated by the Purple Eagles in the final 30 minutes of lacrosse action, ending in a disappointing 9-7 defeat.
Leading 7-5 at the break, Fairfield was unable to penetrate the stout Niagara defense in the second period as they were held scoreless after halftime. While the Purple Eagle offense found its rhythm, the Stags simply could not buy a quality possession on the offensive end. For a team that averages 10.4 goals per game in the season, it was certainly surprising to see such a potent offense be thwarted to the extent that was shown.
“We did not do what was needed to win this game,” head coach Laura Field said when asked about the Stags second half effort. “We just had a lot of unforced errors where we turned the ball over on our own.”
The Stags finished the day with an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers and 29 fouls committed.
Despite their performance in the second half, things actually looked quite promising for the Stags during the first 30 minutes. After trading goals to knot the game at three, Fairfield rifled off three straight goals to give the squad a 6-3 advantage with just under seven minutes to play in the first 30. Senior Maeve Quinn and Alex Fehmel ‘17 each tallied two goals apiece during the time frame in which the Stags offense was running like a well-oiled machine.
But just as we thought the Stags would pull away from Niagara, they could not find the spark to put the Purple Eagles to bed. They allowed them to hang around, quickly finding the net twice in the last five minutes of the half to bring themselves within one goal at 6-5. Senior Colleen Reynolds would score for Fairfield with 11 seconds left to give the Stags a tentative 7-5 lead going into the break.
Reynolds’ goal would be the last time that the Stags found the back of the net on Saturday.
Once the second half commenced, the shift in momentum was noticeable. Niagara came out with a fire that Fairfield was unable to match. After only ten minutes into the period, Fairfield was suddenly down 8-7 as the Purple Eagles continuously found good looks on goal.
Five minutes later, with over 15 minutes remaining in the game, Niagara scored one more goal to give them all the insurance that they would need, making the score 9-7. Fairfield could not crack the Purple Eagle defense, mustering only seven shots in the final spell. Given the significance of the game in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, Field wished her senior leaders were able to give the team more on Saturday.
“We definitely expected more out of them today,” Field said. “We’re going to need them to win going forward.”
Quinn and Fehmel led Fairfield with two goals, while Reynolds, Lily Crager ‘19 and Brenna Connolly ‘18 each added a tally.
The seniors honored on Saturday were Quinn, Reynolds, Kelly Camardo, Chelsey Sidaras, Cristina DeVita, Jenna Fuchs, Shelby Iapoce, Melissa Laible and Julieanne Mascera.
Moving forward, the Stags will play Manhattan College on Wednesday, April 27 in their last regular season game of the year. The MAAC Tournament is then set to begin on Saturday, April 30 at the highest seed’s home field.