As the returning of Fairfield University students to campus on Aug. 24 draws nearer every day, one cannot help but wonder what the future holds. I found myself asking that same question, but with a more specific focus: What does the future hold for Fairfield Athletics? With multiple teams announcing their batch of new recruits, let’s dive into what we can expect to see on the field/court when school starts up again.
Fairfield Men’s Basketball announced the arrival of five new recruits heading into their second season with head coach Jay Young at the helm. The Stags, posting a record of 12-20 in the 2019-20 campaign, look to five newcomers, three first-year students along with two transfers, to liven up an offense that scored over 70 points just one time in their 32-game season. They will also be adding to an incredibly stout Stags defense, which was ranked 23rd in the country in points allowed, creating an average of just 62.9 points per game. The first-year recruits joining the Stags for their first season of collegiate basketball are Supreme Cook, Jason Edokpayi and Jalen Leach.
Cook is a 6’8” power forward who played his last season of high school basketball with The Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J. Prior to that season, he played for three years at East Orange Campus High School, as well as a year at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School. It is worth noting that Cook played for the same Amateur Athletic Union program, the New Jersey Roadrunners, as Fairfield guard Taj Benning ‘21 did. Cook earned second-team All-State Independent/Prep honors on https://njhoops.rivals.com, as well as a spot on the website’s first-team All-Rebounding.
Edokpayi is a 6’6” power forward out of Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore, Md., who also played for New World on the Adidas circuit. Edokpayi received All-BCL (Baltimore Catholic League) first-team honors, as well as BCL’s Most Improved Player Award.
Rounding out the incoming rookie recruits is Leach, a 6’4” point guard from Nyack, N.Y. Leach attended Bergen Catholic High School in New Jersey before making the switch to The Tilton School in Tilton, N.H, where he averaged 24.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game during his senior year. Leach received All-New England second-team honors for his performance.
All three young players bring something of value; Cook’s rebounding, Edokpayi’s tenacity and Leach’s scoring are all much-needed additions for the Stags and present a bright future for the basketball program overall.
Rounding out the men’s basketball newcomers are two transfers, Zach Crisler from Rice University and Jake Wojcik from the University of Richmond. Crisler, a 6’9” forward, will join the Stags as a sophomore, scoring 56 points and grabbing 40 rebounds in his premiere campaign at Rice. Wojcik, a 6’4” guard, arrives at Fairfield as a junior, having played in all 31 of the Spiders’ games last season and starting in 33 games his first year. Wojcik averaged 3 points per game in his sophomore campaign, 7.7 as a first-year and shot a team high of 90.5 percent from the free-throw line last season (19 for 21). Both transfers bring experience and should be valuable assets to a men’s basketball squad that is already returning so much talent next season.
Fairfield Women’s Soccer is looking to build on an impressive 2019 season under head coach David Barett, posting a record of 11-6-3, with a record of 7-2-1 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play and their first appearance in the MAAC championship game since 2014. The Stags will welcome eight newcomers to a team that is already returning eight All-MAAC players. Joining the team will be defender Sydney Corbett (Paul VI High School), forward Angela Filosa (California High School), goalkeeper Juliette Grasso (Rye Country Day School), midfielder Marina Karalis (Belmont High School), midfielder/forward Maddie Kiely (Haddam Killingworth High School), midfielder Caroline Kelly (Clarkstown South High School), midfielder Allie Kirby (Adlai E. Stevenson High School) and forward Elle Scott (Fitchburg High School).
Corbett, the lone defender in the class of recruits, played for the club team Players Development Academy South. She earned a plethora of awards, including New Jersey Top Defensive Team and All-State and All-Conference selections as a senior. She also won the 2018 National Premier Leagues championship with her club.
Fairfield also welcomes a lone goalkeeper recruit in Grasso. She played for the club World Class FC with fellow recruit Kelly. She was the only goalkeeper to be selected to the All-League first and second teams by the Fairchester Athletic Association, the league her high school played in. Coach Barrett believes she will add great depth to the goalkeeper position, as well as keep things competitive with the returning Stags’ goalies.
The Stags also welcome two forwards for the 2020-21 season, Filosa and Scott. Filosa played for the club San Ramon FC, tallying 44 goals and 10 assists throughout her career. She was the leading scorer for her club team. Scott, the only girl’s soccer player from Fitchburg High School to ever sign to a Division I team, played for the club FC Stars of Massachusetts. She scored a whopping 79 career goals, and was named Team MVP and Central Mass. All-Star.
Finishing up the Stags’ recruiting class are four midfielders: Karalis, Kiely, Kelly and Kirby. Karalis played for the club team NEFC, and totaled 28 goals and 38 assists in her high school career. Kiely played for Oakwood Soccer Club, totaling 40 goals for the club. She received a top player ranking in the developmental academy by New England Soccer Journal. Kelly played alongside goalkeeper Grasso at World Class FC, also being named fall athlete of the year at her high school. She’s a defensive-minded midfielder, giving coach Bartlett some options in terms of where she can play. Finally, Kirby played for Sockers FC. Coach Bartlett is excited to bring her on for her work ethic and athletic ability, seeing her as someone who will compete to get on the field right away.
Fairfield Women’s Basketball welcomes four new recruits for the 2020-21 season, after posting a record of 16-14 in the 2019-20 campaign, along with a 12-8 MAAC record. The Stags welcome forwards Dayna Tirado (Closter, N.J.) and Mackenzie Daleba (Dorchester, Mass.), as well as guards Janelle Brown (Middle Island, N.Y.) and Mimi Rubino (Pequannock, N.J.).
Tirado averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds for her high school, Northern Valley Demarest. She received two All-League first-team honors, as well as All-County first- team honors. Daleba received athlete of the year at her high school, Cathedral High School, as well as being a 1,000 point scorer. She was also one of five Massachusetts players to be nominated to participate in the McDonald’s All-American game.
Brown comes to Fairfield as the all-time leading scorer at Longwood High School, averaging 16.3 points per game. She received a multitude of honors, including being named Miss Suffolk Player of The Year. Mimi Rubino was a 1,000 point scorer at her high school, Morris Catholic, averaging 16 points and six assists. She was also an All-County selection.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, as many more impact players will be joining each and every athletic program at the university.
There is no telling exactly what the future holds for Fairfield as a whole upon returning to campus in August. However, one thing is for certain; the future of Fairfield Athletics is extremely bright in the form of these new recruits and transfers.