Peter Caty/The Mirror

Three weeks ago, Fairfield found itself staring at a big weekend – Siena, the Arena at Harbor Yard, first-place on the line. The end result: an 81-73 loss  to the Saints.

A week later, Fairfield faced yet another daunting task – Iona, on the road, second-place in the conference at stake. The end result: a 68-58 setback to the Gaels in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Now, following an up-and-down week highlighted by a thrilling victory over Loyola (Md.) in the game’s waning minutes, but tainted with an 88-80 loss to Rider this past Saturday, head coach Ed Cooley and the Stags find themselves in an all-too-familiar situation.

This weekend, St. Peter’s – currently tied with the Stags for third in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) standings – travels to Bridgeport to challenge the Stags, only this weekend marks more than just a game of great significance; it marks the first time the Stags may be facing a must-win.

After opening its MAAC schedule with a 5-1 record, Fairfield has dropped two of its last three and three of its last six games. The end result: an added sense of urgency to  accentuate an already important matchup.

Nonetheless, head coach Ed Cooley insists that the Stags are not fazed by the situation, regardless of the recent slump.

“That’s what you sign up for. If it’s tough, it’s tough,” Cooley said, referring to the Stags’ upcoming schedule. “You’ve got to play everybody to cut down the nets. I’d rather have it tough than easy.”

“If it’s easy, how do you get better?” Cooley added.

Following the team’s game against the Peacocks on Friday, the Stags will prep for a Monday rematch against Siena in Albany. The Saints remain the conference’s lone undefeated team this season.

Aside from Siena, Fairfield faces a myriad of other tests in the coming days, including a second-go around against every team vying for second place in the MAAC and, consequently, a first-round bye in the impending MAAC tournament (Iona, Niagara, Rider).

“Tough?” Cooley asked with a smile on his face. “Bring it on, baby.”

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