On Saturday, Feb. 8 the Fairfield University women’s lacrosse team hosted the College of the Holy Cross on Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium to kick off the 2020 campaign. Unfortunately, the home-opener was disappointing for Fairfield fans when the Stags were unable to ward off the Crusaders’ efforts, and they fell short with a final score of 10-8.
In the 2020 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Preseason Coach’s Poll, the Stags procured some major recognition by the league’s nine head coaches. They earned two first-place votes, and 70 total points, tying them with Monmouth University for the top spot. Nods were given by the conference to two Stags, specifically Kelly Horning ‘21 and co-captain Maggie Reynolds ‘21, when they were named to the Preseason All-MAAC Team.
Early in the first half, Holy Cross established their strong presence with immense pressure on Fairfield. They beat Fairfield to the scoreboard, when Kara McDuffee and Jolie Creo registered two consecutive goals over a span of 19 seconds. Graduate student Monika Sivilli and Jillian Winwood ‘21 answered back for Fairfield when each of them found the back of the net shortly after to match the competition with two points. Holy Cross repeated that same echoed scoring pattern and again Sivilli and Winwood jumped in to squash the two-goal deficit. Once more, the Crusaders tried to have the last say but the home team answered back, and was able to keep the score knotted at five by the end of the period. Although during the first thirty minutes Fairfield was able to keep up with Holy Cross’ quick pace, they quickly fell behind in the latter half.
McDuffee struck gold again on a free position shot drawn from a foul on Maggie Fort ‘23 with 28 minutes and 35 seconds left of regulation time. For the last time, Fairfield kept the deficit within one when Diana DeVita ‘21 completed a pass from Winwood and pocketed her first goal of the afternoon. From that point on, they lost control and Holy Cross surged on a 4-1 run, leaving Fairfield in the dust.
Despite the neck-and-neck nature of the competition, all five leads established throughout the match were credited to the Crusaders. Fairfield’s obstacles stemmed from their failure to demonstrate the upper hand.
Credit from the eight points accumulated by Fairfield went to five different Stags. Sivilli, Winwood and DeVita put up two points a-piece while Madeline Dent ‘22 and Meaghan Graham ‘20 were credited for one each.
Although this weekend did not result in an outcome that Fairfield hoped for, they led the MAAC in scoring defense, caused turnovers and ground balls with 10, 16 and 24 respectively. Reynolds held down Fairfield’s defensive end and even dished out an assist, demonstrating her adaptability on the field. Her performance garnered her the title of the MAAC Defensive Player of the Week.
The narrow loss was not an ideal way to start the season, however the reigning back-to-back MAAC Champions show much promise for the future. They are slated to compete against the University of Connecticut Huskies in Storrs, Conn. on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 3:00 p.m.. Looking ahead, the first conference game for the Stags is scheduled for Wednesday, March 25 at home against Quinnipiac University. Fairfield will face conference play with a reputation to uphold, as they finished off an undefeated run during the 2019 season for the MAAC portion of the slate, which led them to the National Collegiate Athletic Association postseason tournament.