Sophomore Desiree Pina has been one player who has seen an increased role this season. (Peter Cady/The Mirror)

Typically, coaches don’t like to make one game stand out. They’ll spew “coach-speak,” down playing any additional importance, especially to conference games.

But this week, women’s basketball head coach Joe Frager knows his team is facing an important stretch of basketball. His goal is to always have his team playing its best during the final run to the MAAC Tournament.

“I think the most important thing right now is to focus on St. Peter’s, you never want to put one game above the others, but that is a really big game for us.”

The Stags are coming off a loss to second-place Iona which dropped them into seventh place in the MAAC. If the season ended today, Fairfield would have to play an extra game in the MAAC Tournament.

“I think the Iona game, hopefully we can take some confidence from that,” said Frager. “Honestly, we just need to get healthy.”

Fairfield has been hampered by injuries, playing some recent games with only a six woman rotation. Even the Stags who are healthy enough to play are nicked and banged up.

“For the Iona game, you never like to lose,” said Frager. “But I think they were just too much for us; they wore us down. I was proud of the way we battled and came back, but Iona may be the deepest team in the league.”

Frager is hoping that the Stags can take some positives out of the way they kept the game close and grinded to the end, especially coming off a good performance earlier in the weekend against Loyola.

“I was really, really happy with our win at Loyola,” said head coach Joe Frager. “I thought it was one of our most consistent games all year. We got nice, balanced scoring.”

Despite all the injuries, the Stags did get two quality performances from injured senior center Tara Flaherty.

“Tara Flaherty gave us some really good minutes at Loyola and going into Iona, they are a very physical team and Tara is a physical player.”

Frager had previously said that this team was one of his favorite to coach because of how well the women got along and their team-spirit. And while their attitude may have waned in recent weeks with the losses and injuries, they have rebounded.

“Right now, our attitude is very good. If you had asked me two weeks ago, I probably would have said that maybe our attitude was in a little of a nose dive.”

But then the Stags won on the road against Rider and the Stags regained some of their confidence.

Fairfield has also seen some of its younger players carry a large load. The Stags have only gotten significant minutes from one senior this year.

“We’ve definitely seen leadership strides from Des Pina,” said Frager. “She’s come into her own. And Taryn Johnson has been more consistent with the energy that she brings. They’ve tried to step up.”

This season, Frager has been letting his younger players learn on the job and take their lumps.

“We’re basically a freshman and sophomore team,” said Frager. “You’ve just got to let them keep playing and figure things out.”

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