In a cross-town showdown pitting the men’s lacrosse team against the Pioneers of Sacred Heart University on Tuesday, March 1, the two teams duked it out in a fiery contest that saw 35 total goals scored on both ends of the field.

Only four games into the new lacrosse season, the Stags are already proving that this town is only big enough for one of us. 

Fairfield was able to head home with their heads high, securing a come-from-behind 19-16 victory at Sacred Heart.

The game, statistically speaking, was toe-to-toe for virtually the whole game. After the first quarter, the Stags were leading the Pioneers by a score of 5-4, which would later flip to a Pioneers lead of 10-8 at the half. They would hold onto this lead going into the fourth frame with a 14-12 lead over the visitors. 

With seven goals in the last quarter of the game, however, the Stags were able to rally and find success. 

“We faced a lot of adversity tonight,” head coach Andrew Baxter stated in the game’s official recap. “We talked in just about every huddle about trying to be present and understanding that the most important thing is always the next play.”

Graduate student Taylor Strough took up most of the scoring for the Stags, finding the back of the net a team-high five times in the win. Senior Kyle Borda and first-year Jack McKenna were not far behind with four goals and three goals respectively.

Borda is in his fourth season with the Stags. McKenna, a Fairfield, Conn. native, is a newcomer on the team.

Even with the contributions of these players, the Stags’ seven goal rally was no easy feat. With the mindfulness of the team, however, this was possible. 

“We talked about being present in the moment,” Strough stated. “And our coaches alluded to that in the game as well. So I think that was a big key for us, being present in that moment and at the right time.”

Some other main contributors to the success of the team were some of the younger players who finally have a chance to shine. “We’re a big team-oriented group but specifically I think last night Kyle Borda really stepped up in the midfield,” captain and redshirt sophomore Bryce Ford stated. “You got a walk-on in Luke Okupski who put two big ones in the net.”

“I think guys like that are just really important,” Ford continued. “They came on the field and took the opportunity.”

Ford scored one goal in the effort to take down the Pioneers. However, he was selfless out on the field, dishing out four assists according to the same recap. 

From a leadership standpoint this season, Ford is co-captaining the team with his brother Dean Ford ‘23 as well as fellow midfielder Trent Moran ‘23. 

After a 16-9 loss to Villanova University, the Stags looked to bounce back; this is exactly what they pulled off. Ford pointed to the positives of the Villanova contest which in turn assisted in the win against SHU. 

“I thought that we showed signs of really great lacrosse and we had flashes of it, and I think after that game, as much as we want to win, it was a positive to be able to take some of those away going into [Sacred Heart],” Ford stated. 

After taking on Sacred Heart University, the men’s lacrosse team hosted Harvard University at Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium on March 5, 2022. Harvard has one win and one loss on their season thus far according to their official schedule on gocrimson.com. In their history against each other, Fairfield has been able to take six wins, with Harvard boasting only five.

“I think the biggest thing we talked about already is, you know, just being us and representing Fairfield lacrosse the way we know how to do it,” Strough said. 

The Stags, in their Saturday afternoon matchup, fell to Harvard by a final score of 16-12. The trio of Strough, Borda and McKenna netted two goals each, with attackman Max Paparozzi ‘23 leading the pack with a hat trick. 

“We continue to show resiliency; there were a couple of times today when we bounced back and didn’t let Harvard pull away, and I told the guys that I’m proud of them for that,” head Baxter stated in the game’s official recap. “But we still have to keep working on our details and playing cleaner lacrosse to keep ourselves out of those situations where we’re playing from behind.”

On Tuesday, March 8, the Stags will take on the Quinnipiac University Bobcats under the lights of Rafferty Stadium at 7 p.m. You can attend this game in person or watch it on Lacrosse Sports Network. 

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