Contributed by Fairfield Sports Information Desk

Senior Jenna Slowey controls the ball in a game earlier in the season. 

On Saturday, March 8, at Alumni Field, the women’s lacrosse team was ready to “Face Off for a Cause” against the Vermont Catamounts. As a proud supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project, the Stags were determined to get a victory against the Catamounts to show the injured servicemen and women the respect that Fairfield has for all the sacrifices they have made in order to keep the country safe.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a project that was formed shortly after 9/11 and its main purpose is to “raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, help injured service members aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.” Through the funds raised, the project is able to focus on both mind and body empowerment to help men and women recover.

After defense and midfielder Shelby Iopace ‘16 was finally able to bring the project to Fairfield, she was willing to do everything possible in order to make the event successful.

As fans made their donations to the project, the bleachers began to fill with hundreds of students, families and service members. The atmosphere of the game helped the team get off to a strong start in the first half of the game. In an intense first half, Vermont and Fairfield were constantly battling to take the lead. Vermont, who at the time was undefeated 5-0, attempted to prove their dominance over the Stags by scoring the first two goals of the first half.

However, Julieanne Mascera ‘16 of Fairfield, answered back and scored two consecutive goals for the Stags. As the half continued, the Catamounts put three more points on the scoreboard, while the Stags concluded the first half with four more goals, putting them ahead 6-5.

Sophomore Colleen Reynolds scored three consecutive goals for Fairfield in the first half. Vermont relentlessly tried to finish off the first half as the stronger team, but Chelsey Sidaras ‘16 was able to stop seven of their 13 shots.

The Stags never allowed the undefeated record of Vermont to get in the way of their expectations for the game.

“It was scary, but we knew we could do it because we had been working hard and practicing hard and playing close games,” said Iopace. “We knew what we had to do, we were very confident and the atmosphere helped us go into the game hard.”

Maintaining the same attitude as the first half, the Stags went into the second half hoping to get the victory. However, Vermont wasn’t about to give up their perfect record without a battle. At the start of the half, Fairfield was ahead 6-5. In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Courtney Chmill ‘15 made the first unassisted shot of the half while her captain, Melanie Raso ‘14, scored the next two goals for the Stags. Assisted by Mascera, Jenna Slowey ‘14 was able to net the last goal for the Stags in the second half. With 12 minutes left in the game, the team was ahead of the Catamounts 10-5 and a win looked hopeful. But with seven minutes left in the game, Fairfield was forced to play with extreme defense as Vermont’s offense made every attempt to make the game even. Vermont made the next four goals of the game, but Fairfield’s defense, led by Meghan Reda ‘15, was able to hold Vermont off and win the game, 10-9.

“We were able to win the second half because we support each other a lot so I think that helped knowing that we would always be there to have each other’s backs,” stated Iopace. “Even when we made a mistake, we knew that we could just make it up and move on to the next play right after.”

Handing Vermont their first loss of the season, the Stags couldn’t have been happier with their performance or with the turnout and success of their event. Looking ahead, now 3-2, the team will be taking on New Hampshire and UConn. The team is looking forward to using these out-of-conference games to prepare for games in the MAAC league.

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