As the Canisius Golden Griffins descended upon Rafferty Stadium, a feeling was in the air that the Fairfield University faithful would be privy to an intense matchup between the two best teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. After what was a back-and-forth matchup for much of the contest, the Golden Griffins offense proved to be too much for the Stags as the visitors left Fairfield with a 15-10 triumph.
After the Griffs struck first, Alex Fehmel ‘17 got the Stags on the board to knot the game at one with over 26 minutes left in the first half. Consecutive goals by Brenna Connolly ‘18 and Kathleen Hulseman ‘19 served as the response to another Canisius goal to give the Stags a 3-2 advantage with under 17 minutes remaining.
Minutes after Scarlett Sulliman ‘17 put Fairfield back on top with a 4-3 lead, the Griffs would rattle off three-straight goals to put the visitors up 6-4 with just under seven minutes to play. But the Stags would respond with a mini run of their own, finding the net twice off the sticks of Riley Hellstein ‘17 and Fehmel to end the half at 6-6.
Coming out of the locker room, it felt as though we were poised to see a battle to the finish between these MAAC powers and that held true for the first 15 minutes of the second half. The two teams traded goals with neither team relinquishing momentum. Sulliman, Taylor Mitchell ‘19, Fehmel and Connolly all scored in the frame to give the Stags a 10-9 lead at one point.
But Connolly’s second tally of the day would prove to be Fairfield’s last goal of the afternoon as Canisius absolutely ripped the game away from the Stags to the tune of a 6-0 run to close out the game. After looking solid for the first 15 minutes, the red and white looked shocked to see the Golden Griffins scoring possession after possession. With the game out of reach, the clock slowly winded down and the scoreboard read 15-10 by the time the game came to a conclusion.
Fehmel lead the Fairfield offense on the day as she finished with three goals. Sulliman and Connolly each chipped in two markers, while Hulseman, Mitchell and Hellstein all found the back of the net once.
Whenever a dramatic run to close out a game occurs like it did on Saturday, April 22, one can only ponder what went so wrong in the final frame. For head coach Laura Field, the unforced errors were the Stags’ undoing.
“I think the unforced errors were our achilles’ heel,” Field said. “We’d get the ball back in transition and we would turn it over. A lot of it was decision making and when you make those turnovers against a good team they are going to capitalize.”
Although the loss was certainly disappointing, Field did have some positive takeaways from the contest.
“I think we know that we will probably meet again sometime during championship weekend,” Field said. “We’re not afraid of Canisius, we know what is coming and I do not think that they are afraid of us. The loss does mean a little but we are more worried about two weeks from now and the position we’ll be in then.”
Fairfield looks to get back in the win column when they welcome the Manhattan Jaspers to Rafferty for a 3 p.m. start on Wednesday, April 26.