It was a beautiful sunny, 60 degree afternoon at Rafferty Stadium, a perfect day to honor six Stag seniors with a massive win that would vault Fairfield into first place in the Colonial Athletic Association standings. Up 4-1 at the half, the Stags were able to hold off a feverish University of Massachusetts second half comeback, putting the final touches on an 8-6 victory.

Junior Tyler Behring was the star for the Stags on Saturday with 19 saves throughout the afternoon. His 19 saves were his second highest total of the season, as he fended off 23 shots in an earlier contest against Bucknell. From nifty kick saves to agile deflections off his body, each save continued to show why Behring is among the top goaltenders in the country.

“I was seeing the ball really well in practice all week,” said Bhering. “When it came to game time it really translated to the field today.”

Each save Behring made gave the Stags momentum as they went on the offensive attack. After UMass scored the game’s first goal, Fairfield went on an incredible 4-0 run to close out the first half. Junior Jake Knostman made his mark during the half as he scored three straight goals. Seniors Charlie Schneider and Charlie Horning also made their presence felt in the first 30 minutes as they each contributed two assists with Horning adding a goal.

In the second 30, Fairfield came out with the same intensity, scoring the first two goals of the half to stretch their lead to 6-1 in the third quarter. After trading goals to make the score 7-2, UMass would go on a 3-0 spurt to close the gap to 7-5 with just under 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Junior Nico Panepinto would score for the Stags a minute later to give the team a three goal lead. With under two minutes left in the fourth, UMass would find the net once more, but it was too late for a comeback effort as the game would end at 8-6.

Horning, Schneider, Panepinto, Colin Burke ‘19 and TJ Neubauer ‘16 all finished with a goal apiece, while Knostman ended with three tallies.

The win gave the Stags their third consecutive victory on the year. However, today was about more than just an important game versus a CAA rival, it was about celebrating and appreciating all the time and effort that the six seniors have devoted to the program in their stay at Fairfield.

The seniors honored were Conor Dalton, Joe Guidarelli, Robert Popdan and captains TJ Neubauer, Charlie Schneider and Conor Barr.

“I’m really proud of this group of guys,” head coach Andy Copelan said. “TJ will be all over the record books when it is done, Conor B. and Charlie have made a huge impact after transferring here and I commend Conor D., Joe, and Robert for all waiting their turns and stepping up.”

At the right time of year, the team is coming together to play its best ball of the season. There are two regular season games left on the slate and the squad is looking like it is rounding into postseason form. The Stags are in action next at Towson University on Saturday, April 23 before playing their final regular season game at the University of Delaware on Friday, April 29.

If the Stags beat Towson and second place Delaware loses their matchup against Drexel this coming Saturday, Fairfield clinches the top seed in the CAA Tournament. Garnering the top seed means that they would host the tournament at Rafferty Stadium from Thursday, May 5 to Saturday, May 7.

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