The women’s field hockey team suffered a disheartening 6-5 loss to Rutgers on penalty strokes Tuesday.

The loss was the Stags’ first of the season after winning the team’s first two games against Providence and Rhode Island.

Fairfield also, for the first time ever, received votes in the NFHCA National Poll. The Stags received seven votes following their two impressive wins over quality north east opponents.

The Stags will get another chance for national recognition when the team faces 18th ranked Hofstra as well as north east powers Connecticut and St. Joseph’s.

Fairfield has been led by Julie Knoblich and Kiara Nickl. Knoblich has tallied three goals while Nickl has netted two so far this season.

Freshman defender Jessica Martin has made an immediate impact on the team. Martin was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week after forcing three turnovers and five tackles against Rhode Island last week.

The Stags opened the season with a 2-1 overtime win over Providence on Sept. 7. Dani Brown scored the game-winning tally on a breakaway from Andrea Caputa.

Caputa scored the first Fairfield goal when she deflected a pass from Kara Lynch into the Friar net. Lauren Thomas made four saves in the Stags’ victory.

Fairfield then convincingly knocked off Rhode Island 4-1 on Sept. 8. Knoblich and Nickl each tallied twice for the Stags’ four goals.

The Stags open their Patriot League schedule on Saturday with an away game at Colgate. Fairfield then travels to Hofstra on Sept. 20 before returning home to face Dartmouth on Sept. 22.

Fairfield has high expectations going into its league schedule following the team’s first-ever Patriot League Tournament Championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament last year.

The Stags return 11 players from last year’s roster that barely qualified for the season-ending conference tournament before upsetting their way to the league crown.

The team is led by seniors Lynch, Brown and Liz Croney, while Knoblich, Nickl and Caputa add to the Stags’ offensive firepower.

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