For a coach who began the game with 96 wins with the Stags, one would think Jim O’Brien has seen it all. But, as the Fairfield women’s soccer team took on the Stony Brook Seawolves on Sunday, Sept. 14, O’Brien called the close win “one of the wildest games he’s ever been a part of.” Not even back-to-back penalty kicks could stop goalkeeper Kathleen Early ‘15 from keeping her team ahead as they defeated the Seawolves 3-2.

The Stags started off the first half of the game strong with a shot by Erin Pettersen ‘15 just 20 seconds into the game. Continuing with the momentum that Pettersen started the game with, the team took another four shots before Megan O’Brien ‘15 was able to head the ball into the net after a corner kick from Jessica Broadbent ‘15.

After the six shots Fairfield had taken just minutes into the game, Stony Brook fired back, taking four shots before they were able to post their first goal, tying the game 1-1.

Sophomore Cassidy Boegel made several attempts to get her team ahead, but could not find a way to get past Stony Brook’s goalkeeper. With just five minutes left in the first half, the Seawolves found an open spot in the net, putting them ahead 2-1.

“We were in the driver seat early on and I think we started to get a little comfortable,” said Coach O’Brien. “We gave up a soft goal on a corner kick and the second was even softer.”

For a Fairfield team that is rarely behind by the end of the first half, tensions between the Stags and the Seawolves were high. Not only would the win give Coach O’Brien the honor of having broken the program record for the most wins as a coach, but the win would continue the undefeated streak of 17 wins on Lessing Field.

“Myself and assistant coach Sean Driscoll, exuded confidence during halftime. Instead of giving a little bit of tough love, we gave them some love,” added Coach O’Brien. “So they bounced back.”

Dominating the start of the second half, Fairfield was finally able to tie up the game with their third shot of the game, coming from Emily Wieczorek ‘16, who took a powerful shot to the top of the net. With the defense anchored by Faith Daley ‘18 and Pettersen and Michelle Kowalski ‘15 constantly moving the ball up the field, the Stags looked to be the next ones to get a goal on the board.

However, with about 20 minutes left in the game, Stony Brook was awarded a penalty shot after a player was fouled in the box. Early dove to the left of the net, stopping the shot from going in for a goal. However, quickly after that shot, it was decided that Stony Brook would be given another shot because Early stepped off her line. However, no matter how many shots the Seawolves were given, Early stopped them all. Despite being frustrated with the call to give Stony Brook another shot, she stayed focused and kept her team ahead.

“I think I responded well to the shots. I read where she was going,” said Early. “It was a good feeling to stop the shots, but I think today’s win was a group effort.”

The two penalty kicks awarded to the Seawolves only intensified the effort being given by the Stags. After Kowalski was tripped by a Seawolves’ defender, Fairfield was given their own chance at a penalty shot. Sophomore Anna Borea stepped up for the team and was able to get the shot right past Stony Brook’s goalkeeper, finally putting Fairfield ahead 3-2.

“It was amazing to get the last goal and see the faces of my teammates, coaches, everything,” said Borea. “It just felt great. It always feels great to get the winning goal.”

Stony Brook made two more attempts to tie up the game, but had no success. As the buzzer ended the game, the Stags had forced Stony Brook to make eight total saves, while Early only needed to make four. Outshooting the Seawolves 22-15, the entire team couldn’t have been happier with the outcome of the game.

“I think today’s game was an amazing effort all around. Everyone gave 100 percent,” said Pettersen. “We really came out strong, we came back and all in all, we got the victory.”

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