Just one win away from repeating as Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, the Fairfield Stags were edged by host and first seeded Monmouth University Hawks 3-2 in a double overtime thriller.
Before the championship game on Nov. 6, the Stags had to take on third seeded Bryant in the semifinals of the tournament on Nov. 4. The Stags jumped out to an early lead as Ann Burgoyne ‘17 got things started by scoring the game’s first goal, giving the team the early 1-0 advantage. However, Bryant answered back with a goal of their own, tying the game at one heading into the half.
The start of the second half would see the Bulldogs take a 2-1 lead following a goal from Keighan Richardson. However, with two minutes remaining in the game, the Stags made a final run and connected on a goal off the stick of Emma Clark ‘19 forcing the game into overtime.
The Stags wasted no time in the second half, as Burgoyne knocked in her second goal of the afternoon and the game winner sending the Stags to the MAAC Championship game.
The next obstacle for the Stags would come in the way of the Monmouth Hawks in the MAAC Championship game.
Both teams struggled to knock down any shots through the game’s first half as they would head into the second half scoreless. The Hawks outshot the Stags 10-1, but the play of goalkeeper Caitlin Bennett ‘17 kept Fairfield in the game as she finished with seven saves by the end of the first half, neutralizing Monmouth’s offense.
The Hawks drew first blood just 10 minutes into the start of the second half when MAAC Player of the Year Julie Laszlo converted on a penalty corner giving the Hawks the one-goal advantage with still plenty of hockey to be played.
The two teams would go back and forth until the Stags converted on a few opportunities to give them the lead. In the 51st minute of the game, graduate student Hannah Pike found Julie de Paeuw ‘17 open for a shot and converted to tie the game at one. Just one minute after de Paeuw’s goal, the Stags struck again, this time coming off the stick of Clark after receiving a pass from Burgoyne.
The Stags then took their first lead of the game, holding a slim 2-1 lead. Fairfield’s defense was able to slow down the Hawks offense for the remainder of the quarter. Only having 10 seconds left to play, Monmouth found a way to score just as time was about to expire, knocking down a penalty corner to force the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, both teams showed why they belonged in the championship game, playing well on both sides of the field. Monmouth had an opportunity to win it all on a penalty stroke, but Bennett was there to record yet another save.
One overtime period was not enough as the game was forced into a double overtime, with the winner being crowned as MAAC Champions. Just three minutes into the second overtime period, MAAC Offensive Player of the Year Alyssa Ercolino scored the game winner when she deflected teammate Laszlo’s shot off a penalty corner to win the MAAC Championship for the Monmouth Hawks.
Bennett finished the game with 12 saves and earned herself a spot on the All-Championship Team alongside Maclaine Matties ‘17 and Burgoyne ‘17. Just seconds away from victory, the Stags failed to repeat as MAAC Champions as they look forward to the offseason and the upcoming season.