After defeating the Quinnipiac University Bobcats 2-0 on Sunday, Nov. 8, the Fairfield Stags became the 2015 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Field Hockey Champions. The MAAC tournament took place at So Sweet a Cat Field located on the campus of Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Here the Stags faced against the best the MAAC had to offer including the number one-seeded team in Monmouth followed by the second-seeded team, Quinnipiac.

The Stags first faced off against the defending league champions, the Hawks of Monmouth University, on Friday, Nov. 6, to kick off the MAAC tournament. Less than two minutes into the start of the game, the MAAC Offensive Player of the Year Ann Burgoyne ’17 would make her move around the keeper and net her first of two goals on the game. The Stags would hold the lead heading into halftime on top 1-0.

In the 52nd minute of the game, Monmouth tied the game after collecting a Fairfield turnover. But the Stags would fire back less than 10 minutes later when Burgoyne deflected the shot of Emily McCauley ’16 high over the keeper to once again give Fairfield the lead. Behind eight saves by goalkeeper Caitlin Bennett ’17, the Stags were able to lock down defensively to close out the 2-1 upset victory. The stage was set after Quinnipiac defeated Rider in the semifinals, and so the Stags would face Quinnipiac in the championship game.

Fairfield jumped out to an early lead in the first two minutes of the game when Burgoyne found MAAC Rookie of the Year Ruth Smalbraak ’19 for the game’s first goal. Quinnipiac would have a couple of chances at the goal with three corners in the period, but Fairfield’s defense was too much as the Bobcats struggled to get past defenders.

The Stags would tack on another goal off the stick of MAAC Player of the Year Julie de Pauew ’17. With five minutes left in the first half, Kaitlyn Taddeo ’16 passed in the ball off a penalty corner to de Pauew who shot the ball from the top of the circle to increase Fairfield’s lead to two heading into the half.

Behind great defense by the Stags, Quinnipiac would struggle in the second half. Quinnipiac shot 12 shots and eight penalty corners, but Fairfield shut off the Bobcats offense for the rest of the game to give Fairfield the 2-0 victory to become MAAC Champions.

This is only the second shutout of the season for Fairfield, which could not have come at a better time for the Stags. Just last week, Fairfield was edged by Quinnipiac in a 5-4 overtime loss. Sophomore Erin Buckley played a great game on defense as she was a huge part of Sunday’s win and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player for her performance throughout the weekend.

“I am just really excited for this group of girls. They worked so hard all year for this and to win the MAAC Championship is truly a rewarding feeling. The team is such a close knit group and they really left it all out on the field today to get this win,” said head coach Jackie Kane. With the victory, Fairfield claims the MAAC’s automatic bid to the 2015 NCAA Field Hockey Championship as they travel to Boston University on Wednesday, Nov. 11 for their NCAA Tournament matchup.

 

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