On Wednesday, Oct. 12, the Fairfield men’s soccer team hosted the Saint Peter’s University Peacocks at Lessing Field in a conference matchup. The Stags secured their second Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory with a 1-0 win.
The Stags dominated the game doubling their opponents in both shots and shots on goal with 16 shots and six of those on the net compared to the Peacock’s eight shots landing just three on the net.
Goaltender James Anderson ‘24 got his fourth shutout of the year. He recorded three total saves in the match, all of which were in the second half. Each shutout he has had has been a necessity for the Stags in these games, with the cumulative score being 1-0.
The first half did not have much action for Saint Peter’s, as they recorded just one shot through forty-five minutes of play. The Stags, however, were firing shots off consistently with their first shot coming just twenty seconds into the match, and had seven shots in the first half with three on net putting pressure on the Peacocks early and often.
Saint Peter’s came out hot in the second half getting two corners early and putting a shot on net which was stopped by a great save by Anderson. Both teams would then trade shots bouncing off the post as the second half went on.
Head coach Carl Rees said in the game’s official recap, “Saint Peter’s came here with a game plan and were resilient in executing that plan so credit to them. But we had a game plan too and countered their expectations with another solid effort defensively that ended with another clean sheet from James and the collective defensive unit. To me, we had been conceding too many goals so getting the clean sheet was job one for us.”
Anderson and the Stags picked up another shutout on Oct. 15 when they hosted Canisius College and won 2-0 on their senior day. The Stags once again dominated the score sheet, doubling Canisius’ shots with eighteen to their nine and tripling their corner kicks with nine to their three. The Stags also had ten shots on goal to their four.
Coach Rees stated in the game’s official recap, “In terms of an occasion like today, it was very important to win in front of their family, in front of our alumni and on Lessing Field. There is added pressure in these scenarios, but we try to embrace it to make a memory and these guys will never forget it.”
Fairfield had a ton of opportunities to break the tie early with plenty of shots in the first half. However, it took a 66th-minute goal from Alex Marin ‘24 to break the tie in the second half. The goal came on a saved Marin penalty kick by the Golden Griffins goalie which then resulted in the ball remaining in play and Pike sending a cross back to Marin who finished for the goal.
Fairfield then kept the pressure up in the close match and put Anderson in a couple of tough situations which led to great saves from the junior goalkeeper. Then in the closing minutes, the Stags finished off the Golden Griffins who were in an all-out attack attempting to tie it up with a counter leading to a 15-yard shot from Raz Amir ‘24. The shot was saved but deflected back to Amir who finished this time putting the game away in the 90th minute.
When recapping the game Coach Rees would say that “Over the last two games, we attempted to control the game in possession and out of possession. So when we don’t have the ball, we want to be defensively compact and to make good decisions about when to engage and when to drop. Offensively, we’ve been working on how to break teams down. Today, I thought we created great opportunities.”
Anderson was announced on Monday Oct, 17 as the Wilson MAAC Men’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week due to his great performances this past week with his two shoutouts including multiple clutch stops with the game on the line. Anderson has a 1.86 goals against average with a total of 56 saves in his 14 starts for the Stags. His great performances against Canisius University and Saint Peter’s University raised his save percentage up to a .683 on the season.
This win made the Stags 2-0 and got them to 7-7 and 3-3 in MAAC play. Fairfield will next play at Niagara University on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m.