The Fairfield University Women’s Soccer Team kicked off its fall 2021 season with an impressive three wins and two ties, making up a five game unbeaten streak. The Stags beat UMass Lowell, 4-3, on Aug. 30. They blanked College of the Holy Cross 6-0 in the Stags’ home opener on Sept. 2 and defeated Dartmouth College, 1-0, at Lessing Field on Sept. 12. The Stags also played both the University of Hartford and Sacred Heart University, which both ended in 1-1 stalemates.
A 19-year coaching veteran, David Barrett, begins his fourth season at the helm of the Fairfield Stags as their head coach. Barrett guided the team to 11 wins in 2019, the most wins in a season in five years. The 44 goals scored by the Stags in 2019 was also the most goals scored by the Fairfield women in over a decade.
Barrett believes there were many reasons for the team’s successful start. “I think at the beginning of any season there is a period of transition where players are finding their feet. We are trying to figure out how these pieces fit together on the playing field. I think our level of competition has been very strong… I don’t think it’s anything surprising that we are starting to find a bit of a groove and gaining some traction in some elements we are trying to establish.”
Gena Pike of Morristown, N.J. is a junior goalkeeper and powerhouse for the Stags. Pike attributes the success of the team to the work ethic of her fellow teammates. “I think we are a really hard working group of girls, and we’ve been on a really good run so far. Preseason was tough, we’ve been training for over a month, so I think we’re finally getting into the swing of things,” she reveals. “Things are starting to click, we’re getting more chemistry on the field and getting accustomed to how each other plays.”
Pike was also named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the second straight week. Pike is honored by the award and proud of the team’s effort. “I think it speaks not only on behalf of me but how well we’ve been performing as a team. It’s given me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, it’s good timing.” Pike registered a 0.48 goals against average and a .900 save percentage this past week for the Stags. Pike also delivered a season-high of seven saves in Fairfield’s win over Dartmouth.
When asked about the adjustment to college for the first years on the team, Coach Barrett sees it as more off-the-field jitters than on-field play. “I don’t think it has been any more or less challenging. I think it is more of the social dynamic than it is on the field for those players, dealing with a lot of burdens of transitioning to college,” Barrett explains.
However, Barrett is confident in the team’s ability to adjust. “It is just a matter of time. Every season comes with its own set of challenges… It takes some time and patience to put the pieces together to bring out strengths in each individual to make the team stronger.”
Pike is also very positive about the new additions to the team. “I think they fit in really well. We have a lot of first-years making their mark and helping out and making an impact for us on the field, and they are gaining confidence too.”
Gena is excited for MAAC play to start. “A lot of our results in our games are really tight. I’d love to keep as many clean sheets as I can in the MAAC and see where it goes from there. It gets super competitive once we get into league play. Hopefully we can start off the match strong and get a result on Saturday with Marist.”
Coach Barrett has a plan for this and every season. “I think our vision and mission is always the same. You want to be in the position to compete for [the] elite championship in November. There are a lot of steps in that journey, and that includes outcomes and winning games … The other piece is just developing players and making them better game to game…If our process plays out accordingly, … I think the outcomes will take care of themselves.”
Coach Barrett, keeper Gena, and the rest of the Stags will take their talents to Poughkeepsie, NY on Saturday, Sept. 18 to play the Marist University Red Foxes in the MAAC opener for both teams. The match will be televised live on ESPN3 at 1:00 p.m.
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