Fairfield Athletics File Photo

It was a battle of two top teams in a rivalry that has seen an underdog shock arguably the most dominant program the conference has ever seen, three times in the last four years in the game that matters most.

Despite being undefeated in the MAAC regular season and winning the regular season championship for three consecutive years, the Fairfield University women’s lacrosse team has seen their season and their dreams end twice in the hands of the Marist Red Foxes.

However, the Stags succeeded in getting some revenge on Sunday as they topped the defending champions 12-9.  The victory extends Fairfield’s conference regular season winning streak to 20 games.

“It’s a natural rivalry,” Head Coach Mike Waldvogel said.  “We’re looking to get back in the right sense of mind in terms of playing in the league.”  Ironically, the current streak started with an 11-10 victory against their old foe, Marist.

This rivalry has heated up over the last few years.  Fairfield and Marist have met four straight times in the MAAC Championship game, with Fairfield winning only one of those titles despite being 23-2 in the conference and undefeated in the last three.  The Stags suffered another setback last season when Marist won the Championship, stunning a Fairfield team who outscored their conference foes by a total of 50 points.  Waldvogel, who is 1-1 as a head coach in those games, admitted that it has become a rivalry, especially for the older players on the team.

The seniors on the squad have been a part of those intense battles.  In fact, the only MAAC team that the class of 2011 has lost to is Marist.

Team Captain Brittany Bare ’11 said, “The returners especially knew that with the loss from last year in the Championship, we needed to come out and prove ourselves again.”

The two-time all-MAAC First Team selection knew that the Stags missed an opportunity last season to return to the NCAA’s for the second straight time, “[we needed] to get revenge and payback on a game we thought we should’ve had last year.”

In the Championship game, the Stags were held to a season low seven points.  The Red Foxes shut down the same team that was averaging 15 goals an outing and tallied 13 in their previous matchup.

“They always come out and play against us and we know they are going to come out hard and aggressive, she said. “So we need to do the same.”

The Stags and the Red Foxes rivalry will not end like this.  In fact, this year should become another chapter in this story.  Fairfield and Marist were picked to finish number one and two in the conference respectively, and all signs point to another battle in the title bout.

“It makes me really nervous playing Marist every time and we’re probably going to see them in the tournament.  So we have to keep working like we do,” Bare said.

A victory over the second best team in the conference can help the Stags as they look for their fourth straight regular season championship.  Head Coach Mike Waldvogel said, “we obviously love to win the regular season.  And I think we’re on the right track right now.   A win over Marist in April is great.  But it only means something in May if they play for the trophy.”

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