In the midst of a cold winter, both the Fairfield University men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are gearing up to start their seasons.
Men’s Lacrosse Preview
Coming off a shortened “COVID-19” season in which the men’s lacrosse team went a disappointing 2-9, including a 0-8 mark in conference play, the Stags are energized and excited to see what the 2021-22 season will hold.
“We’re really excited because this fall and spring, we’ve had real time to be together,” said Head Coach Andrew Baxter. “Building connectivity will be the biggest thing we will emphasize throughout the season.”
Look for the men’s team to play a tough, physical kind of lacrosse this season. “It’s physical. It’s loud. It’s care about each other,” Coach Baxter said when asked about how he wants his squad to compete out on the field. “That’s the brand we want. We want people to come to our games and be like, wow, these guys are physical. They’re loud. And at the end of the day, they care about each other. And they’re selfless.”
One key player for fans to watch this season is Bryce Ford ‘25. A redshirt first-year who played midfield for the Stags during the 2021 campaign, he was a key cog in their offense. This year Baxter and his fellow coaching staff have him playing at the attack position and are hoping for him to continue his ascendance.
“[Ford] is a very dynamic player. He’s been incredible for us and made it super easy in terms of who’s able to quarterback our offense, he’s able to do a lot of different things down there, and we’re able to play to his strengths.” Said Coach Baxter. “He’s a guy I think that’s going to surprise a lot of people this year.”
The Stags have key games against Villanova University, Sacred Heart University, Harvard University and Towson University as they look to bounce back from a disappointing past season.
Coach Baxter, however, isn’t looking past any opponents and says, “every game is a big game because it’s the next one; we’re trying to focus on one opponent at a time.”
They broke their season up into non-conference, conference and playoffs and are hoping to make a splash in the Colonial Athletic Association. For their head coach, ultimate success this season would be winning ball games and getting a CAA conference win.
The Stags’ next game is at home on Rafferty Stadium against Wagner University on Feb. 19.
Women’s Lacrosse Preview
The Fairfield University women’s lacrosse team has enjoyed great success over the past few seasons, winning three out of the last four Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships, and are looking to make an even bigger splash in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament.
“We’re happy with the MAAC Championship but unsatisfied with the way last season ended,” said Head Coach Laura Field. “We always want to perform better [than the last game], and we want more.”
The Stags finally have a full slate of games with both out-of-conference and in-conference matchups with teams such as the University of Connecticut, Boston University, Siena College and Monmouth University.
“The out-of-conference play is a huge deal,” said senior defenseman Caroline Mangan. “It helps us get a good seed in the NCAA tournament and tests us.”
The most anticipated match-up, according to defenseman Keyla Bay ‘22, is against Siena College. “In our four years at Fairfield University, that is the only MAAC team we have lost to,” said Bay. “We have this chip on our shoulder when we play them, and we never want to experience the feeling of losing to them again.”
The women’s program has a brand-new team with many fresh faces that Coach Field expects to contribute out on the field. “We expect a lot out of every class,” said Field. “You are going to see faces from freshmen through graduate students contributing.”
The Stags have many different points of attack and embody the “next man up” philosophy.
A couple of impact players to watch on the field are graduate student Kelly Horning, Mangan and Libby Rowe ‘23.
“Kelly is our foundation of the team,” said Bay. “We can turn to her whenever we need a reset or a clutch goal.”
“Libby Rowe is going to be a huge leader this year,” said Bay. “I’m looking forward to watching her grow.”
Mangan is a clutch, shutdown defender who shows up in big games.
Looking ahead, the Stags know they will be getting each team’s best shot and relish the opportunity to play in big games.
“We have a target on our back,” said Bay. “It gives us the push we need to work harder.”
The team is laser-focused on playing one game at a time and getting better each day. Expect the women’s lacrosse team to be a mainstay in the MAAC conference championship and potentially make a run into the NCAA tournament.
The squad’s next game is against #21 University of Connecticut on Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium on Feb. 16.