Fairfield 12 Yale 11 OT March 8, 2014 Post Game Report

To the Founders and Friends of Fairfield Lacrosse-Senior Eric Warden capped off his three goal day with an OT goal at 1:26 of the first OT period to give the Stags a victory over #10/#11 nationally ranked Yale. This is the first win in eight games since 1996 for the Stags over the Bulldogs. Junior Colin McLinden had a monster game with one goal and six assists including the assist on the game winning OT goal. Sophomore TJ Neubauer also had a three goal day. Big win for the Fairfield Men’s Lacrosse Program!!!

The Stags played Yale in the second game of a lacrosse doubleheader. The Fairfield Women’s Lacrosse team had a 10-9 victory over Vermont in the first game.  The games were also a fund raiser for the Wounded Warriors Project for both teams.  The hats and T-Shirts sold out quickly and the silent auction to benefit the WWP was a huge success.  Congratulations to both teams for their victories and their wonderful fundraising efforts to benefit WWP.

A wonderful day for a lacrosse game!! The sky was sunny (too sunny at times-more on that later) and it was 55 plus degrees at game time. Huge crowd for the game.  Fairfield stands were full and Yale brought a large contingent for the game.  A great day for a game and a storybook ending.  Senior Eric Warden’s father William Warden was the Honorary Captain for the game for his 20 plus years of service in the Air Force.   A big day for the Warden Family.

The game starts with Senior Jack Murphy in goal for the Stags and Eric Natale in the cage for the Bulldogs. At the face off circle are Senior Michael Roe and Dylan Levings for Yale. Roe beats Levings and gets the ground ball.   Neubauer on the wing for the face off gets a pass from Roe. Neubauer wastes no time, streaks to the cage and fires one of his rocket shots past Natale for a goal 16 seconds into the game. What a great way to start!  A face off win and a score on the first shot of the game.  Roe and Levings face off again.  Roe beats Levings and Roe gets to the ground ball.  The Stags offense sets up and works the Yale’s defensive perimeter.  The officials call a 30 second shot clock on the Stags for stalling.  Junior Drew Federico picks up a loose ground ball.  Freshman Jake Knostman takes a wide shot and the officials say the Bulldogs got the sidelines first on the shot.  The Bulldogs clear is good.  Yale’s Ryan McCarthy takes a quick shot and Murphy makes the save.  Murphy clears and the Stags work the offense.  At 10:32 McLinden takes a high shot. Stags ball on the backup.  Senior Alex Cramer finds a cutting Neubauer with 10 minutes left in the first quarter.  Neubauer scores his second goal of the game with an assist to Cramer for 2-0 Stags lead.  Levings and Roe are the X and the official calls a violation on Levings.  Stags ball and they set up their offense.  Warden takes a shot that is blocked at 8:59. Stags keep the ball but commit a turnover 20 seconds later and Yale gets to the ground ball.  The Bulldogs clear is good and Yale’s second shot of the day is high.  They retain the ball and at 7:07 Shane Thornton scores with an assist from Brandon Mangan to make it a 2-1 game.  Roe faces off again against Leving and the officials this time call a violation on Roe. Yale’s ball but they have a turnover. Sophomore Conor Dalton gets to the ground ball but the Stags cannot complete the clear. During the clear, Junior Max Buchanan gets called for a conduct foul.  Yale goes EMO and the Stags man down unit comes on the field.  Yale’s Thornton gets his second goal of the day at 6:07 assisted again by Mangan for a 2-2 tie.  Junior Louis DiGiacomo now takes the face off against Levings and the officials call DiGiacomo for a violation.  Yale has a turnover 30 plus seconds into their offense and Senior Greg Perraut gets the ground ball. Stags clear the ball. A little less than 45 seconds into the Stags offense, Freshman Dave Fleming feeds Dalton who finds the back of the net.  Stags now lead 3-2 with 4:31 remaining in the first period. Levings now take on Roe in the face off circle and Levings gets the win with John Ambrose getting the resulting ground ball.  Sophomore Conor Barr (a Fairfield Prep product) has a caused turnover and Senior Toby Armour gets the ground ball. Stags clear the ball and offense moves the ball around the net.  Junior Tristian Sperry directing the offense puts the ball into Knostman stick.  Knostman scores and the Stags now lead 4-2 with 3:20 remaining in the opening stanza.  Levings and Roe continue their face off battle. Roe wins the draw and Freshman Jay Walsh on the wing gets to the ground ball.  Fairfield’s offense takes their time probing the Yale defense.  Federico shot is wide and the Yale defense gets the ball and clear successfully.  At 1:10 Michael Bonacci hits the post and Mangan gets the rebound.  With 40 seconds remaining in the period, Thorton has his shot blocked.  The officials call a 30 second technical foul on Knotsman for a push with possession. Yale goes man up.  The Bulldogs EMO unit works quickly and Conrad Oberbeck scores with Austin Rocco getting the assist at 29 seconds left on the clock.  Roe and Levings are back  in the circle with Levings getting the win. Ambrose gets  to the ground ball from the wing.  With six seconds left in the period, Murphy playing aggressively creates a caused turnover.  Period ends with the Stags leading 4-3.

Second period starts with DiGiacomo facing Levings at the center X.  DiGiacomo wins and Neubauer playing on the wing gets to the ground ball.  For the next couple of minutes both teams have turnovers.  At 11:10 after Barr gets a caused turnover and Perraut picks up the ground ball, Coach Copelan calls time out.  He wants to get the offense back on track.  On the restart, the Stags come out ready to take shots.   First Fleming’s shot is wide followed by a shot Federico that Natale saves.  Flag had been thrown and Yale’s Christopher Keating is called for slashing at 10:30.  The EMO team takes the field.  Stags work the wheel and McLinden’s shot 30 seconds into the penalty is saved by Natale.  Fairfield gets to the rebound but have a turnover.  The Bulldogs pick up the ground ball but the Stags are riding hard.  Armour gets a caused turnover and Junior Geordie Carrick scoops up the ground ball as the penalty expires. Stags slow things down on offense and work to find a good shot.  At 8:26, McLinden takes a shot that is blocked but he is also slashed by Yale’s Jimmy Craft.  Craft sits for one minute and the Stags man up team takes the field.  Time out is called by the Yale coach.  Stags restart man up and are swiftly moving the ball.  Warden takes a great pass from McLinden and does not miss! Stags are now leading the game 5-3 with 8:09 on the remaining in the second quarter.  Levings and DiGiacomo square off with Levings getting the win and ground ball.  Levings takes a shot going down the field but the shot is wide.  Yale’s offense settles the ball and at 7:19, Sean Shakespeare takes a wide shot.  Next at 6:59, Thornton’s shot misses high.  Yale’s next shot goes into the cage with Mangan scoring with an assist from Oberbeck at 6:48.  Fairfield leads 5-4 after the Yale goal.  Roe now comes out to the X to face off against Levings.  Levings takes the face off win and gets the ground ball.  The Bulldogs’ offense takes their time and at 6:10, Mark Glicini takes a wide shot.  Yale works the Stags defense. At 5:15, Ryan McCarthy’s shot is saved by Murphy. Murphy clears the ball.  Patience is the key to the Stags attack.  McLinden finds Neubauer who fires his shot past the Natale at 4:23 remaining the period.  Yale’s coach takes his second time of the first half.  Levings and DiGiacomo now battle at the X.  Levings takes the draw and picks up the ground ball.  About 30 seconds later, Thorton’s shot is wide. Yale keeps the ball.  At 3:20 on the clock, Shakespeare scores assisted by Thornton.  Stags maintain a 6-5 lead. Roe at the X against Levings. Officials call a violation on the Yale FOGO.  Stags work the ball and Knostman’s shot is saved by Natale at 2:39.  Yale’s clear fails as Federico gets a caused turnover.  Federico grabs the ground ball and resets the offense.  At 1:58 left in the half, Knostman sends a blast past Natale scoring unassisted.  Fairfield now has a two goal lead again at 7-5.  Levings faces off against Roe. Levings win the draw and his wing Harry Kucharczyk gets the ground ball.  Fairfield’s defense is working hard to prevent a last minute goal by Yale.  With 55 seconds remaining, Colin Flahery has his shot blocked. Neubauer quickly gets the ground ball and starts the clear.  With 26 ticks remaining in the half, Coach Copelan calls his second  time out.  The offense restarts and working on the play designed by Copelan but Yale’s defense is denying the Stags’ offensive chances.  With one second remaining in the period, Natale saves a hard shot by Warden. Period ends with the Stags leading 7-5.

Second half starts with Roe and Levings at the middle of the field.  Roe beats Levings and scoops the ground ball.  Stags offense wants to get off to a fast start and Knostman’s shot is high. McLinden has the ball and he finds Warden who buries a shot past Natale.  Fairfield now has a three goal at 14:12 of the third quarter by an 8-5 margin. Levings now beats Roe and John Lazarfeld gets the ground ball.  The Bulldogs waste little time on offense as Oberbeck scores with an assist from Levings at 14:05.  Score is now 8-6 in Fairfield’s favor.  Roe and Levings again face off.  Roe has a violation per the officials. Yale’s offense is started by Eric Scott but the Bulldogs have a quick turnover.  Stags clear and after working the Bulldogs’ defense, Neubauer shot is high at 12:43.  Fairfield alertly backs up and retains the ball.  The offense stalls as a turnover is committed. Natale picks up the ground ball and starts the Yale clear.  Oberbeck’s shot at 10:35 finds the back of the net.  The unassisted goal cuts the Fairfield lead to 8-7.   Roe beats Levings and Barr gets to the ground ball.  The officials call an illegal body check on Yale’s Reilly Naton.  Since a defenseless player was hit under the new emphasis for officials this season, Naton gets a two minute unreleasable penalty at 10:26.  The Fairfield EMO unit patiently works the offense. Sperry’s shot hits the post but McLinden gets the rebound ground ball.  He quickly finds Fleming who does not miss.  Stags now lead 9-7 at 10:03 and still have lots of time on the unreleasable penalty.  Man down face is taken by DiGiacomo against Levings. Levings takes the draw and the resulting ground ball.  Levings takes a shot that goes wide.  Yale keeps the ball and the Stags defense doubles the ball.   Murphy out of the cage gets a caused turnover and starts the clear.  Still time left on the unreleasable penalty. McLinden takes a shot on the man up but it is wide.  Stags keep the ball as the penalty expires.  Sperry feeds his fellow attack McLinden who scores at 7:54 giving the Stags a 10-7 lead.  DiGiacomo beats Levings and Buchanan’s long pole on the wing gets the ground ball.  However, Stags have a quick turnover and Yale’s Bonocci takes a shot. Murphy makes the save and Junior Bryan Barry gets the rebound ground ball.  Good things happen when Barry is on the field and he starts the clear.  Stags slow things down. No need to rush a shot and the attack searches for an opening.  McLinden, who is on fire, passes to  Cramer. Cramer scores with McLinden getting the assist at 5:59 to give Fairfield a four goal lead with 5:59 remaining in the third period.  Lacrosse is a game of runs.   Yale’s Levings faces off against DiGiacomo. DiGiacomo wins the face and McLinden, he is all over the field, gets the ground ball.  The Bulldogs’ Craft creates a turnover and he takes a shot quickly that Murphy saves.  The Stags clear is good. Knostman has a high shot at 4:52. Stags are still holding the ball and Sperry takes a wide shot at 4:18.  The officials in their opinion think the Yale player beats the Stags to the sideline on the Sperry shot.  Yale clears and their offense is working hard against the Stags defense.  At 3:36, Mangan hits the crossbar.  Yale keeps the ball and at 3:01 remaining in the quarter, Bonacci scores with an assist from Thornon.  Score is now 11-8 in Fairfield’s favor.  DiGiacomo beats Levings at the X and Buchanan gets the ground ball. Buchanan sets up the Stags offense.  Stags kill some clock but also are looking for the good shot on offense.  Yale’s defense wants the ball back and Jackson Loie has a caused turnover. Loie picks up the ground ball with 1:21 left in the third period.  With 34 seconds remaining, Oberbeck scores with Mangan getting the assist cutting the Stags lead to 11-9.  Levings beats DiGiacomo and Levings gets to the ground ball.  Yale is determined to get that last second goal to end the period.  First Levings’ shot at 22 seconds goes high.  With 14 seconds on the clock, John Ambrose takes a wide shot.  Only 5 seconds remain in the period and Flaherty’s attempt is high. Period ends with Fairfield leading 11-9

The crowd eagerly anticipates a dramatic fourth period.  Can Fairfield keep the lead and beat Yale for the first time or will the nationally ranked Bulldogs rally and steal the game? The period starts with DiGiacomo and Levings facing off. DiGiacomo wins the face and gets the ground ball.  However, Stags immediately have a turnover. Yale clears the ball and Perraut has a caused turnover 16 seconds into the final quarter.  Buchanan gets the ground ball and starts the clear.  Stags offense settles and at 13:42, McLinden’s shot is saved by Natale.  Natale gets the clear going for Yale and Mangan takes a shot quickly that Murphy saves.  Stags clear and set up the offense.  Clearly the Fairfield attack is taking it time but they want the 12th goal.  First Neubauer takes a shot that goes high at 12:25.  Eight seconds later Neubauer has another shot but this one goes wide.  Stags attack take some time off the clock and resettle.  At 11:40, Neubauer’s third shot is high.  Thirty seconds later, McLinden’s shot is blocked.  Yale gets the ground ball but the Stags offense will not allow the Bulldogs to clear.  Fleming gets the caused turnover and the ground ball keeping the ball in the Stags offensive zone.  Fairfield’s offense resets and works the wheel.  Warden get a hard shot off but it hits the post! Yale is finally able to clear the defensive zone.  Yale’s attack looks for a good shot, working the ball around the cage.  At 9:44, Mangan has a shot that goes wide.  Bulldogs keep the ball but at 9:10, Yale has a turnover.  Stags clear and the offense are working the perimeter.  Warden has a shot blocked at 8:28 and the Bulldogs clear.  Flaherty for Yale takes a shot that Murphy saves but the Bulldogs get the rebound.  Flaherty’s next shot at 7:35 finds that back of the net and is scored unassisted.  Stags lead is now 11-10.  Levings and DiGiacomo are at the X and the official gives Yale the ball on a violation.  Bulldogs take their time in setting up their offense.  Shakespeare takes a wide shot at 6:53 and 18 seconds later Murphy stops a shot from Oberback. Murphy starts the clear. Stags are able to take 50 seconds off the clock but Yale’s defense gets a caused turnover.  Keating who had the caused turnover gets to the ground ball and Yale clears.  Bulldogs offense knows they have plenty of time left on the clock and are not rushing to take a shot.  Mangan takes a blast at 4:38 that Murphy saves but Flaherty puts home the rebound shot four seconds later for an unassisted goal. Game is now tied at 11-11. Nail biting time!!!  DiGiacomo takes the face off from Levings and the Stags get the ground ball.  Neubauer fires a wide shot at 3:57 and 13 seconds later Coach Copelan calls time out.  The Stags restart but a cross field pass is into the sun and Yale gets a turnover on the missed pass.  Yale clears and works the ball in the offensive zone till their coach calls time out with 2:57 remaining in the game.  The Stags defense must come up big.  Yale restarts and they are in no hurry taking the clock down to shorten the end of the game. With 90 seconds remaining in the game, Bulldogs have a turnover.  Armour gets the ground ball and then Murphy gets a grounder.  But the Stags cannot clear and Yale takes the ball back with 81 seconds left in the game.  Officials call Yale for stalling with 39 seconds remaining in the game and put on the 30 second shot clock.  McCarthy responds and his shot is wide.  Yale backs up and McCarthy gets a second shot off with 28 seconds left that is high.  Oberbeck gets the ground ball and resets the Bulldogs attack.  With 16 seconds remaining in the game, Yale has a turnover and Buchanan gets the ground ball. Stags are unable to clear and Yale gets a caused turnover. Craft picks up the ground ball with 6 seconds left in the game and Oberbeck’s shot at 5 seconds goes wide. Yale’s coach calls his last time out with 4 seconds remaining.  Bulldogs get the ball to Oberbeck on the restart and he tries to stuff a shot into the goal as the clock runs out but Murphy gets his stick on the ball and makes the save. Game ends in an 11-11 tie.

Four minutes is put on the game clock, each team gets one time out and it is sudden victory.  Roe and Levings take the all important OT face off.  Levings win the draw and gets the ground ball.  Naton shot at 3:39 goes wide and the Bulldogs keep the ball.   A shot by Thorton hits the pipe but the officials say a Yale player is in the crease at 2:58. Stags ball and their clear successful.  Coach Copelan waits till the ball is in the offensive zone and he uses his OT time out.  He sets up the Fairfield offense for the final shot of the game. Stags restart and McLinden gets the ball.  He is looking for Warden.  Warden breaks free and in one motion catches the ball and power home the game winner at 1:26 of the OT period. Stags win 12-11!!!  Dog pile in the middle of the field of jubilant Stags laxmen!!!

Yale outshot the Stags 41 to 36.  Fairfield took the ground ball war by a 28 to 26 margin.  In the face off game, Levings won 14 of 27 draws while Roe and DiGiacomo combined for 13 wins out of 27 chances. This number is a huge change from last year when Levings won 18 of 24.  The officials called two face off violation on Levings and four on the Roe/DiGiacomo duo.  Yale cleared successfully 15 of 17 tries while the Stags cleared 16 of 18.  The Yale EMO team was 2 for 2 while the Stags man up team got two goals out of four tries.  The Bulldogs had 15 turnovers while Fairfield had 14 turnovers.  Murphy was credited with 9 saves and Natale had 5 saves against the Stags.

Stars of the game-Could and should say the whole team. Several individuals need to be highlighted.  Junior Colin McLinden had a career day.  One goal and six assists for the game.  Seven points in one game is a career high for McLinden along with six assist was also a career high.  In addition, he got two ground balls for the game.  McLinden is now 8th on the Fairfield career assist list.  Senior Eric Warden with not only the game winner but three goals on the day.  Sophomore TJ Neubauer had a hat trick on the day.  His first goal of the day 16 seconds into the game was the tone setter.  Neubauer also scooped up two ground balls.  Senior Michael Roe and Junior Louis DiGiacomo winning 13 of 27 face offs thus neutralizing the Yale FOGO who has a national reputation.  Defensive stars of the game-where do I start and who do I leave off?  The entire defensive team including the defensive middies.  They turned back Yale in last four minutes of regulation and the first part of the OT.  Great job men!!!!!

Frosh of the Year competition-Jake Knotsman got two goals against Yale and Dave Fleming had one goal and one assists.  Fleming’s caused turnover at 11 minutes of the fourth quarter was huge in my estimation. Both are key members of the Fairfield offensive unit and are making large contributions as freshmen.  Knotsman has 10 points on the year and Fleming has eight points.  Both are frosh of the year so far in the 2014 season.  Soph of the Year-TJ Neubauer with his second straight multiple goal game takes the lead.  He has eight goals for the season and two assists for ten points.

Seen in the crowd- Darrell Ponzio ’90 came from Middletown, CT with his son Calvin and enjoyed the game. Darrell helped start a youth lax program in Middletown, CT and both of his sons are playing. Bob Cypher came from Rye, NY and John Hughes made the trip from Hamden, CT. Alum parents Clay Wells and John Bannon were in the stands with Clay coming from PA. I understand Gary Raniola, Jr. ’09 was in attendance. Great to see everyone cheering on a big win for the program.

The Stags are now 3-2 on the season and get some rest this week.  Continuing their four game home stand, the Stags will next play Stony Brook with a 2-3 record (they have a game on Tuesday) at 1 PM on Alumni Field.  Last year’s game against Stony Brook was snowed out (plus the LIE was closed for days!).  The preliminary forecast is for another 50 degree day but do we trust the weatherman this winter??  Roger Yergeau ’73

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