Senior Eric Warden buried the overtime goal to give the Stags a 12-11 victory, their first ever against the Yale Bulldogs. It was Warden’s third goal of the game, assisted by Colin McLinden ’15.
“I think after starting the season 2-0 with good wins, we certainly got humbled during our last two outings,” Stags Coach Andy Copelan said. “We knew we had a real opportunity with the #10 team in the country coming to our home turf.”
Fairfield – coming off two straight losses to unranked opponents – came out firing, with TJ Neubauer ’16 netting the first goal just 16 seconds in. He would fire home another at the 10-minute mark in the first quarter. Yale’s Shane Thornton would score two goals of his own to draw level with 6:07 to play. Two Stag goals from Conor Dalton ’16 and Jake Knostman ’17 pushed the lead to 4-2 before Yale would pull within one with just under 30 seconds left in the first.
The Stags would strike first again in the second quarter, with Warden netting his first of the game on an extra-man opportunity at the 8:09 mark. The Bulldogs would match two more Fairfield goals, but Knostman would have the last word, firing in a goal with 1:58 to play. Fairfield would take a 7-5 lead into halftime.
Fairfield would again find the back of the net first in the third quarter, with Warden driving his second goal home 48 seconds in. Both offenses found their stride, as two goals from Yale’s Conrad Oberbeck would again pull the Bulldogs back within one. The Stags seemed to seize control as three unanswered goals opened up an 11-7 lead, the largest of the game.
However, Yale was not to be counted out. They would net four unanswered goals, including Mark Glicini’s game-tying shot, making it 11-11 with 4:34 to play. This marked the first tie since the scoreless opening seconds.
The 1,143 in attendance at Alumni Field witnessed a nail-biting end to regulation. Yale would threaten Stag goalkeeper Jack Murphy ’14 for most of the final three minutes. Oberbeck would fire another shot just wide with four seconds left before Coach Andy Shay called a timeout to set up a last shot for the Bulldogs.
Yale nearly stole this one, as the ball found its way to Oberbeck again, who forced a wild save from Murphy on the line as time expired.
The overtime period saw early pressure from the Bulldogs. They would fire a shot just high and another off the right post before Fairfield would finally clear and used their one allowed overtime timeout with 2:39 left to play.
The Stags slowed the pace, testing the Yale defense before McLinden again found an open Warden, who sent a low shot past goalkeeper Eric Natale with 1:26 left. The Fairfield crowd erupted as the Stags rushed the field, piling on top of their game winner.
Warden and Neubauer each chipped in three goals, with McLinden providing a career-high six assists and a goal of his own.
“After our last couple of games it was huge to get that goal. We needed something to spark the start of our new season,” Warden said. “From start to finish, it was just the energy and togetherness we had. Without that, you can’t beat a team like Yale.”
Fairfield returns to action on March 15, hosting Stony Brook at Alumni Field.