Last Saturday, the Stags women’s soccer team beat the Niagara Purple Eagles with a score of 4-0 on Senior Day.
Ironically enough, all four of the goals were scored by freshmen. The four seniors, Sarah Frassetto, Jac Ley, Carly Beyar and Shannon Fay, and one graduate student, Nikki Stanton ’13, played in their last ever home game at Lessing Field and helped their team clinch a winning season as well as an undefeated season at home. This is the first time such a feat has happened for the women’s soccer team.
The shutout in this game continued the long absence of Niagara scoring at Lessing Field. The last goal scored by the Purple Eagles on Fairfield turf was back in 2006. Also, the win at home for the Stags prolonged their streak of superiority at home. Their last home loss was on Aug. 31, 2012. This latest victory against Niagara improves the Stags to 10-5-1 overall and 6-1-1 in league play.
Ashley Small, the leading scorer for the Stags, had a difficult time against the Niagara defenders. In the first twenty minutes of this contest, she took three shots on goal which were all saved by Niagara goalkeeper Claire Friertag. Most of the time, Small received double teams and had trouble moving around with the ball. At 24:15, she was substituted for another forward and did not come back on the field until the midway point of the second half.
During this period, the Stags played a good offense and had five corner kicks while Niagara had none. However, Claire Friertag was incredibly accurate with her saves. She had five of them in the first half and was a staple for that defense. The first half concluded at a score of 0-0.
In the second half, the Stags got right back to their offensive ways. At 46:28, Brenna Brown ’17 scored her fourth goal of the season on an assist from Ley, tying a record for most goals ever by a freshman for the Lady Stags soccer team. Shortly after establishing a 1-0 lead, Cassidy Boegel ’17 scored the first goal of her collegiate career at 49:28.
When asked about these freshmen and how important veteran leadership has been, Frassetto said, “We have ten freshmen so we knew it’d be a challenge. With our senior leadership, we knew it would be possible to integrate them into the team.”
For the next thirty minutes of this contest, Fairfield held the ball on the offensive end and made Stag goalkeeper Kathleen Early’s job very easy. Throughout the game, she had just one save on two shots from Niagara. By preventing the Purple Eagles from scoring at all this game, Early recorded her sixth shutout of the season.
When talking about the defense of this Stags team, Ley said, “We’ve been able to build out of the back and get the ball upcourt to our forwards. In terms of shutting them down, it all starts at the back.”
Around the 80-minute mark, all five of the seniors were substituted from the game for freshmen. Shortly after this substitution, Sydney Arestivo ’17 scored her second collegiate goal to give the Lady Stags a 3-0 lead. After this goal, even more substitutions were made as Victoria Ortega ’17 and Grace Landers ’17 entered the game for their college debuts. Then, at 85:36, Anna Borea ’17 scored her first collegiate goal to gain a commanding 4-0 lead.
“I think it really says something that all four of our goals were from four freshmen on our Senior Day. It’s like we’re passing the torch,” said Frassetto about the freshman dominance in this game.
This would stay the score for the remainder of the game as the Lady Stags soccer team clinched a winning season in 2013 as well as a bye into the quarterfinals of the MAAC Championship. Now at a four-game winning streak, the girls are very confident along with their Head Coach Jim O’Brien.
When asked how far he sees his team going this season, he replied, “Well in order to win the MAAC Championship, we need to run the table. That’s what we set out to do. The goal right now is to get a top seed so we can get a bye in that first round.”
When asked about how it felt to coach the first ever undefeated Fairfield women’s soccer team at Lessing Field, he had this to say: “I’m very proud of the girls because that was one of the goals that we set, to win our home games. It’s really on the kids. I’m very proud of them.”
The girls said they really appreciate the home-field advantage. “We have a great field and great facilities. It was really great to be able to win for our fans and be undefeated at home. Everyone from freshmen to seniors put in a great effort and everyone really wanted it,” Frassetto said.
“No one comes into our home and takes a win from us,” said Ley about playing at Lessing Field.
The Lady Stags soccer team will try to continue its win streak and stellar season with its final two road games of the season against Siena on Oct. 23 and Rider on Oct. 26.