Junior Sam Snow scored a career high of five goals as the Stags staged a second half comeback to defeat Stony Brook 13-10 on a cold and blustery Saturday afternoon at Alumni Field.

Fairfield trailed early in the game, going down 4-2 with under four minutes left to play in the first quarter. But two goals within 44 seconds of each other by Snow tied the game at four going into the second quarter.

The Stags were outscored 2-1 in the second quarter, with a goal by John Snellman sandwiched between 2 goals by the Seawolves, putting Stony Brook ahead 6-5 going into halftime.

The second half was a different story for Fairfield as they outscored Stony Brook 8-4, including a 5-1 advantage in the third quarter alone. Head coach Andy Copelan was very pleased with his team’s efforts in the second half, particularly with the face-offs.

“Anytime you’re down at halftime and come back to get a win, you’ve got to give [the team] a whole lot of credit for just being resilient and persevering through some tough times,” said Copelan. “And I thought that’s what we did today.”

“We wanted to control the face-off. Looking at the stats, we were 7 for 7 [in face-offs] in the third quarter, and that was the difference right there.”

Fairfield was aided by two Stony Brook penalties early on in the third quarter, giving the Stags a 2-man advantage. This allowed the Stags to gain an 8-6 lead, and Fairfield would not trail again for the rest of the contest.

Freshmen Drew Federico and Tristan Sperry each scored their first career goals in addition to a goal by Snellman and two more by Snow, pushing the Fairfield lead to 10-7.

After Stony Brook cut the lead to two, Brent Adams, who was drafted in the MLL Draft this past January, and Snow each scored to give Fairfield their biggest lead of the game at 12-8. The Seawolves rallied late to bring the lead back to just two with just over three minutes remaining, but Adams’ third goal of the day sealed the victory for the Stags.

Coach Copelan was happy with his team’s performance on Saturday. “Proud of the effort, proud to be 1-0,” said Copelan. “A lot of good things, but certainly some bad things that need to be tightened up as we get into the heart of our season.”

As for the turnaround at halftime, Copelan credited his team with just “playing smarter.”

“It’s easier when you have the ball a lot, and obviously that starts with how we handle the face-off. We started seeing the ball a little more regularly so when the guys get in the flow offensively, they start thinking a little clearer.”

When asked about Snow’s performance in the game, Copelan wasn’t shocked with what happened. “We saw it all preseason… it wasn’t a surprise to me. I’m proud of the fact that we spread the scoring out. Anytime you’re able to get 13 goals, that really increases your chances [of winning].”

Snow said that “it feels great” to have set a career high with five goals, but added, “I think starting 1-0 is the most important thing.” Nevertheless, Snow was awarded the NEILA Player of the Week award for his strong-willed effort against the Seawolves.

He went on to credit the senior leadership as being a key to the game, saying, “I think the seniors really played well. Senior captain Ben McTague had a great halftime speech, and really got us pumped up, and I think that…he really is the heart of this team,” said Snow.

Senior John Snellman, who added three goals of his own, credited much of the team’s success to fellow senior goalkeeper Charlie Cipriano.

“It came down to a team effort. When you have one of the best goalies in the country, I tell him every single game, it’s kind of tough not to rally around him. Every time he makes a save, the whole team, the whole sideline, gets fired up,” said Snellman.

Cipriano, the defending ECAC Keeper of the Year who was also recently drafted in the MLL, had nine saves in the game, seven of which came in the second half.

Fairfield won 19 of the 26 face-off attempts and had a 30-27 advantage in groundballs, which are two areas the Stags looked to improve upon coming into the season.

The Stags play host to Bryant University this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Alumni Field.

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