For the first time since 2008, the Fairfield University men’s soccer team will be playing for the MAAC Crown. The squad extended their unbeaten streak to 12 straight games as the top seeded Stags defeated the 5th seeded Red Foxes by a score of 3-1 in the semi-finals of the MAAC Tournament in Florida.
Fairfield came into the game with a winning streak over Marist that has now expanded to four years and they kept the domination going in the 10th minute when Adam Cowen connected on a header past goalkeeper Steve Skonieczny putting the Stags in front 1-0.
After that goal, it was the Red Foxes that controlled the time of possession for most of the half leading to seven corner kicks and four shots. Junior goalkeeper and MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, Michael O’Keeffe turned each of Marist’s shots away to preserve the 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
The Stags continued their scoring early in the second when Rookie of the Year Jordan Ayris put back a rebound for his tenth goal in his first season and extended the lead to 2-0.
The Red Foxes would cut the lead in half in the 57th minute when Lucas Szabo put in a pass from Alex George to cut the deficit to one. It was the first time that Fairfield had allowed a goal since October 16th, a streak that lasted 436 minutes. Ironically, the Red Foxes were the last team to score off of O’Keeffe and the Stags.
With nearly 30 minutes remaining in the game, the Red Foxes fired up shot after shot, but Fairfield was able to recover and score when Jack Burridge headed in Jon Clements free kick to make the score 3-1. Fairfield would win by that same margin.
The Stags will now play the sixth seeded Manhattan who shocked the #24 Iona Gaels with a 1-0 overtime win. Earlier in the season, the Jaspers rode a 44 game losing streak, since then Fairfield is the only team to beat them in a 2-0 decision at Lessing Field, the game where the Stags clinched the regular season title. With one more win the Stags will win their first MAAC Championship since 2008.