Fairfield Stags mens’ soccer team left the field after a heartbreaking loss to Harvard vowing that they would make a stong comeback next time out.

Fairfield, ranked 15, defeated the Manhattan Jaspers, 1-0, at Manhattan, Friday afternoon.

The Stags, who ended a six game unbeaten streak and a thirteen game regular season home unbeaten streak with the loss to Harvard, continued another streak with the win. Fairfield is unbeaten in its last fourteen regular season Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) games and is 13-0-1 over that period. The Stags’ have not lost a regular season conference game since the 2004 season.

Paul McQuade ’10 had a goal in the first half to put Fairfield ahead and that was all Jon Paul Francini ’08 and the defense needed, as they shut down the Manhattan offense. Francini picked up his second shutout of the season, with three saves on the day, and lowered his MAAC-low goals against average to 0.90.

“The team showed focus and grit against a determined Manhattan side,” said Coach Rees. “The crucial goal from McQuade allowed us to be conservative.”

The Stags won the game without senior captain Mike Troy, who injured his back in the loss to Harvard. Troy will play on Sunday at St. Peter’s for the Stags’ second MAAC game of the weekend. The defense also lost Tom Clements ’09 and Mike Vanasse ’08 to injuries in the Harvard game.

“The team showed its depth on defense. With the injuries Pat Kelly `08 and Steve Desmond `08 came in and played well,” added Rees.

“The team played very well tonight,” said Troy. “It was a great result, another three points and another win in the MAAC.”

While the Stags’ played without Troy, it was the first game of the season for sophomore Kerr McLeod, who injured his knee before the season began. McLeod was the MAAC Rookie of the Year last season and has played on the Canadian National Team. He came into the game as a substitute and had one shot on goal.

“My knee felt good. It’s been seven months since I last played and it was mentally tough to work back to being able to play,” McLeod said.

“It’s great to be back, especially after how much the guys have accomplished so far this season. I hope that I can help contribute the rest of the season,” he added. The Stags’ offense, which had ten shots, equaling the amount of the Jaspers, was stalled not by the Manhattan defense but by the poor field conditions.

“The field was the worst we have played on all season,” said freshman starter Paul McQuade. “It was really difficult to play on.”

Eighteen minutes into the game Fairfield’s David Piederahita ’10, crossed the ball into the box, aiming for the head of Alex Cunliffe ’07, who made a diving attempt for a header shot, but the Manhattan goalie lunged for the ball, knocking it with his fist.

The ball did not go out of harm’s way as the goalie hoped, as McQuade got his foot on the ball, sending it into the corner of the net for his third goal of the season, which ties him with fellow freshman Christian Uy and junior Sam Bailey for second on the team.

“The ball happened to come right to me and I was able to put it in,” said McQuade. “What is important is that we won. We need to win our games in the MAAC and we were able to pick up another three points.”

“I think we played very well today against a tough team,” he added.

Fairfield nearly allowed in another late goal, as they did against Harvard, but this time the Stags’ locked down defensively and were able to stop the Jaspers from scoring. Bailey, who has been known for his offense this season, cleared the ball out of danger to help keep the lead for Fairfield.

“We are learning that defense starts from the front and is as mentally tough as it is physically tough,” said Coach Rees.

The Stags play their second conference game of the weekend, at St. Peter’s College, on Sunday at 1 pm.

Remaining Schedule: Sunday 10/15/06 vs. St. Peter’s at Jersey City, N.J. 1:00 PM Friday 10/20/06 vs. Loyola (Md) at Fairfield, Conn. 7:00 PM Sunday 10/22/06 vs. Rider at Fairfield, Conn. 1:00 PM Friday 10/27/06 vs. Canisius at Buffalo, N.Y. 7:00 PM Sunday 10/29/06 vs. Niagara at Buffalo, N.Y. 1:00 PM

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