This past Saturday, the Fairfield University men’s lacrosse team kicked off their season against the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks. The game was played at home on Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium. The final score was 7-8. 

Sophomores Will Consoli and Jake Gilbert were the stars for Fairfield, with both players getting a hat trick in the losing effort. 

The game overall was a defensive showdown. The first score of the game didn’t come until the final ten seconds of the first quarter, scored by Lehigh’s Scott Cole

The Stags would answer quickly, as just 30 seconds into the second quarter Gilbert would find the back of the net. Unfortunately, the second quarter would soon turn south for Fairfield. 

Following the goal from Gilbert, Lehigh would proceed to score five unanswered goals over the course of the second quarter. Going into halftime, Lehigh would lead the Stags 6-1. 

The third quarter followed a very similar pattern to the first, as both team’s defenses held firm and allowed no points. This time around however, Fairfield would be the one to break the stalemate. Captain Luke Okupski scored off a nice pass from fellow senior Jake Coleman

Going into the fourth quarter, the score was 6-2. The Stags would mount a comeback effort, started by Consoli’s first goal of the day two minutes into the fourth quarter. 

The comeback effort would ultimately come up short, but the Stags did have an opportunity to tie the game in the last 10 seconds. 

Something that should be noted is that the Stags had four shots go off the goal posts in the game. If even one of those shots had connected, the game could have ended very differently. 

Even though the team did ultimately lose, they should still hold their heads high. Last year, the Fairfield’s men’s lacrosse team also opened up their season against Lehigh and lost 20-10. 

Additionally, Lehigh finished as the 25th ranked team in the nation last year, whereas Fairfield finished ranked 57th. While it’s a new year and a new team for both programs, the results of this year’s match marks a notable improvement for Fairfield. 

Earlier in the week, The Mirror talked with captain Cam Barisano, and he expressed very positive sentiments towards the team this year. 

“I think we are the most connected we have ever been,” said Barisano, “and you can tell on the field.” 

This connection was apparent given the assists Fairfield was racking up. All of the goals Fairfield scored on Saturday were assisted. 

For some context, almost half of the goals Fairfield scored last year were unassisted (48%). The number of assists on Saturday show a drastic improvement from last year. 

Barisano discussed this during the interview, as leading up to this season the team has apparently been emphasizing more team play. Barisano said “We have been really harping on our one more mentality, sharing the ball and giving up a good shot for a great shot.” 

While it is a small sample size, the Lehigh game should be looked at as indicative of potential future issues. A concern for the team this season might be the actual scoring itself. 

Of the seven goals Fairfield scored against Lehigh, six of them came from just two players, Consoli and Gilbert. If the Stags want to continue to improve this year, more players are going to have to score. 

Last season, only four Fairfield players managed to score double digit goals. The emphasis on spreading the ball around should help with this problem. But, better individual output might be required for the Stags to take the next step. 

This game against Lehigh is a good indicator for Fairfield’s potential this season, even if the game did end in a loss. The players and coaches seem to have a good idea of what they need to improve on. Whether or not they can execute this remains to be seen, but the Fairfield men’s lacrosse team definitely seems to be on the right track. 

The Stag’s next game against the University of North Carolina will be a big test for them. The game will take place on Saturday February 17th at 12:00 in North Bethesda, Maryland.

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