Photos By: Jeanine Nocera/The Mirror
Jonathan Raj (1st), Matthew LaMura (2nd), Michael O’Keeffe (3rd) , Nuno Rodrigues (4th) and Adam Cowen (5th).

An ending overall record of 34-22-9, a conference record of 21-10-3, seven All-MAAC First Team honors, one All-MAAC Second Team honor, one regular season MAAC championship and one MAAC Tournament Championship.

These are all of the honors that the five seniors of Fairfield University’s Men’s soccer will graduate with.

Seniors Michael O’Keeffe, Jonathan Raj, Adam Cowen, Matthew Lamura, and Nuno Rodrigues ended what was an incredibly successful four years with the Stags on a series of events nobody could have foreseen.

After having their last two MAAC regular season games cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, there was a replacement game scheduled for last Wednesday against Princeton University to honor the seniors. However, the replacement game also got cancelled, this time from a snowstorm.

The short season left the Stags unable to redeem themselves and pull themselves out of a losing season. As it stands, the 2012 season ends with a 7-8-1 and 3-4-0 record for the Stags.

“It wasn’t the best way to go out in the end” said Raj. “We played below par and we had so much more in the tank that we could have gave.”

It was a last season that wasn’t representative of the skills of the Stags and the senior class in general.

“It was not what we expected specifically … we played our hardest, definitely, in every game. We were definitely in every game. We could have won some of the ones we lost here and there,” said LaMura.

In their eight losses of the season, exactly half of them were by one goal.

However, there were many positives to be drawn from the season.

Cowen said, “Everyone was really close and got on really well. Everyone turned up every day … and gave 100% when they came to training and play.”

O’Keeffe also thought there were strengths to be seen in the squad. He said, “We were a lot deeper off the bench this year than previous years. We played a lot more players. And we had a good core group of leaders.”

The leadership of the seniors that O’Keeffe describes stem from their chemistry they have both on and off the field. With three-fifths of the seniors on the team hailing from New Zealand (Raj, O’Keeffe and Cowen), there was an instant connection between them, and they welcomed Rodrigues and LaMura into “the family.”

“They celebrate every holiday at my house pretty much. Christmas, Easter, New Year’s …To my parents they’re like second children. So they’re forever to be my best friends,” said Rodrigues.

LaMura echoed Rodrigues’ thoughts: “I guess it’s a biased opinion because I’m part of it, but since I’ve been here, we’re probably the closest. We do everything together. Whether it’s going out or getting something to eat or hanging out, we’re always together.”

The chemistry felt between the seniors played a vital role in the success they have had on the field. It contributed to their undefeated MAAC season in 2011 and their MAAC Tournament win in the same campaign, although Rodrigues spent most of the season out with a knee injury.

The team will miss the undeniable chemistry of the senior class when the 2013 season rolls around, but the current seniors think the Stags still have the skills to get the job done.

“There are a lot of good players coming through,” said Cowen. “The freshmen were strong this year. We’ve got some good strong players coming through from juniors to seniors.”

LaMura also said, “The remaining players are strong, very strong. There are always rumblings throughout the year of what kind of recruits might be coming in, but there’s always a strong recruiting class. They’re gonna be great.”

The future, while bright, still remains uncertain for the Stags. But what is certain is that the seniors have put in a solid four years in with the team, and they don’t regret a thing.

“No regrets whatsoever. Just as a person, not just as a soccer player, but as a person I’ve grown so much and I attribute it to this school,” said Raj.

“I don’t regret any decisions about anything to do with coming here, to do with the coach. We won a MAAC Championship, I started in most games, enjoyed everything about it pretty much,” Rodrigues said.

“I love my experience here at Fairfield and I have no regrets whatsoever about anything I’ve done here. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be given this opportunity,” said O’Keeffe.

While the senior class has many awards and honors to their name, what will be missed most at the beginning of the 2013 season will be the chemistry that the class of 2013 brought to the team.

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