The #13/#15 Fairfield Men’s Lacrosse Stags won the Battle of the Big House at Ann Arbor, MI. The Stags beat the Michigan Wolverines by a score of 9-8. Fairfield jumped out to an 8-4 lead at halftime with Junior Colin McLinden leading the team with 2 goals and three assists. Fairfield scored just one goal in the second half. Junior Drew Federico netted a huge goal in the fourth quarter which proved to the margin of victory. A strong face off game with Senior Michael Roe and Junior Louis DiGiacomo were also key to the Stags win. Fairfield is now 9-2 overall and 2-0 in ECAC Lacrosse League play while Michigan dropped to 4-8 overall and 1-2 in the ECAC Lacrosse League standings. The Stags now have won seven straight games. This matches the Fairfield program record set in 2012 when the Stags won its first seven game of the year.
The game was played in mid 40 degree temps and sunny skies. The Michigan Wolverines played its spring football game before the game. Thus many of the football fans remained in the stands at the game. Several local high school lax programs attended the game and a youth lacrosse “game” was played at halftime.
Senior Jack Murphy is in goal for the Stags and Freshman Robbie Zinino is in the cage for the Wolverines. Senior Michael Roe gets ready to face off against Michael Lott for Michigan. Roe wins the initial draw of the day and Sophomore TJ Neubauer gets to the ground ball. Stags set up their offense. Fairfield probes the Michigan defense. Junior Drew Federico takes a shot at 14:02 and it goes wide. Stags back up the shot. Junior Tristan Sperry dodges around the nets beating the Michigan defender. His shot hits the post! The rebound ground ball is picked up by Michigan’s Jeff Chu. He starts the Wolverine clear. David Joseph for the Wolverines takes a quick shot that wide. Michigan retains the ball as they backup. After working the ball for almost a minute, Michigan’s offense has a turnover. Stags clear the ball and the offense takes it time. At 11:07, Sperry again takes his defender to the rack and he scores unassisted. Fairfield now leads 1-0. Roe and Lott are at the X. Officials call a violation on Lott. Stags ball. After working their offense for almost one minute, Michigan’s Mack Gembis gets a caused turnover. Wolverines clear the ball. A Michigan shot by Joseph at 9:22 is wide. Wolverines retain the ball and have a turnover. Stags clear into the offensive zone. The offense is looking for that seam. Neubauer has the ball and he hits the cutting Freshman David Fleming. Fleming hard shot is in the back of the Michigan net. Stags now lead 2-0 at 8:11 with Neubauer assisting on the Fleming goal. Roe and Lott go to the X. Roe beats Lott and he gets the ground ball. Fairfield works the Michigan defense. Fleming takes a wide shot. Stags restart but Michigan’s Gembis gets a caused turnover. Chu gets to the ground ball and Michigan clears at 7:13. They take their time until Mike Hernandez takes a wide shot at 6:21. The Wolverines keep the ball. Dan Kinek passes to Mikie Schlosser who scores at 6:07. Fairfield’s lead is now 2-1. Roe and Lott head to the midfield. Roe is successful and gets to the ground ball. Stags have a very quick turnover and Michigan’s Ian King scoops up the loose ball. Michigan’s David McCormack takes a shot that is blocked. Stags clear into the box. Sophomore Frank Borognone gets to a loose ground ball so Fairfield stays on the attack. Wolverine’s Dakota Sherman gets a caused turnover at 4:30 remaining in the first quarter. Kinek gets the resulting loose ground ball and he runs down the field with the clear. He does not stop until he takes a shot that is wide of the cage. Michigan backs up and at 3:53 Thomas Paras fires a wide shot. Wolverines keep the ball. Now Joseph takes a wide shot. Michigan keeps the ball and takes some time off the clock. At 2:48 Paras second shot also flys wide of the nets. Wolverines keep the ball. Next Kyle Jackson takes a shot that Murphy saves. There is a rebound ground ball picked up by Mike Francia. Joseph takes another shot that is on the mark. The game is now tied at 2-2 on the unassisted goal with 2:21 remaining in the first period. Junior Louis DiGiacomo enters the face off circle facing Lott. Lott takes the face off with McCormick on the wing getting to the ground ball. Michigan takes its time on offense. Stags defense is pushing the Michigan players outside. Senior Toby Armour gets a caused turnover and starts the clear at 1:20 left in the period. Stags take some time off the clock. Freshman Jack Knostman has the ball spotting the cutting Fleming. Fleming scores for his second goal of the game. Stags now lead 3-2 with 24 seconds remaining in the first stanza. I believe this is the first time this season the two freshmen have connected to get a goal. Know we will see this combination again over the next three plus seasons. Two exciting young players! DiGiacomo takes this face off against Lott and the officials call a violation on Lott. Flag down as the officials say this is the third face off violation. Stags have an extra man for the last 22 seconds of the second quarter. Stags look for a shot. Since one is not open, they hold the ball so the Stags can start the second quarter with the ball. Fairfield leads 3-2 at the end of one period.
Stags start with the ball as the second quarter begins. Fairfield’s offense works the wheel and looks for a seam. McLinden passes to Senior Eric Warden who fires a hard shot into the Michigan goal at 14:02. The assisted goal pushes the Stags lead to 4-2. Roe is back at the face off circle to take on Lott. Roe wins the face off and gets to the ground ball. Stags offense sets up but Michigan’s Andrew Hatton gets a caused turnover. Wolverines clear the ball into the offensive zone. Michigan’s offense works the Stags defense when Ian King scores unassisted at 12:01. Stags lead is now 4-3. Lott and Roe continue their battle at the X. Lott takes this face off and Chase Brown from the wing gets to the ground ball. Michigan’s Joseph takes a shot at 10:52 that Murphy saves. The rebound ground ball comes back to Joseph who takes a second shot that Murphy saves. This time, Murphy has the ball in his stick and starts the clear. Stags are working quickly when Fleming’s shot is saved by Zonino. McLinden finds the rebound and he puts the ball into the cage. His unassisted goal at 9:36 gives Fairfield a 5-3 lead. Roe and Lott square off at the face off circle. Roe takes the draw and the ground ball. Stags offense looks for that seam in the Michigan defense. McLinden takes the ball behind the cage and dodges past his defender. He scores unassisted at 8:38. That’s two goals for McLinden in less than one minute! Stags now lead 6-3. Now DiGiacomo comes out to the face off circle to take on Lott. DiGiacomo wins the face off and Neubauer grabs the ground ball from the wing. Coach Andy Copelan takes his first time out of the half. Just some time to rest the team and going over assignments. Stags restart after the time out and work the offensive zone. Knostman takes a shot that goes wide. Stags back up and Warden goes to the cage. Michigan’s goal keeper makes the save and he starts the clear. Wolverines are being patient when King takes a shot that Murphy saves. Wolverines retain possession and then Mike Hernandez’s shot goes wide. Senior D Middie Shawn Honovich gets a caused turnover. Armour gets to the resulting ground ball and he start the clear with 5:41 remaining in the half. Stags take their time on offense and look for a good shot. Michigan’s Chris Walker gets a caused turnover at 4:32. Gembis picks up the loose ground ball and starts the clear. Michigan is looking for a shot opportunity. Kyle Jackson tries but his shot is high. Wolverines back up. A quick shot is taken by Andrew Portnoy but it sails wide. Michigan is backing up their shots. Now Joseph takes a shot on net that Murphy saves. Junior Bryan Barry gets the rebound ground ball with 3:08 remaining in the first half. Stags clear attempt fails with a turnover. Michigan gets the ball back and they restart their offense. Joseph gets a shot off that gets into the Stags nets. His unassisted goal at 2:20 of the half cuts the Fairfield lead to 6-4. Roe and Lott are back at the face off circle. Roe pops the ball and takes the ground ball. Stags offense takes its time. After several times around the cage, McLinden feeds Federico. The West Islip, NY product puts the ball into the Michigan goal. Stags now lead 7-4 with 64 seconds remaining in the half. Roe and Lott again get to the X. Once again, Roe wins the draw and he gets to the ground ball. Stags take 20 seconds off the clock when Coach Copelan uses his second time out of the half. Coach Copelan wants to set up the last shot attempt of the first half. Stags restart and wind the clock down. They go to the cage with less than 10 seconds remaining in the half. McLinden has the ball. He finds a cutting Knostman. Knostman shoots a hard shot home and gives the Stags an 8-4 lead with McLinden getting the assist with three seconds showing on the clock. DiGiacomo comes out to the face off circle against Lott. Lott takes the face off and ground ball. Horn sounds ending the first half with Fairfield leading by an 8-4 score.
The third quarter starts with Roe facing off against Lott. Roe wins the face off with Neubauer getting to the ground ball on the wing. Neubauer starts off the offensive set. Stags with the four goal lead take their time. Michigan’s Gembis gets a caused turnover and he starts the clear at 13:43. Wolverines want a quick score. Jackson finds a cutting Paras who scores. Fairfield now leads 8-5 at the 13:04 mark. Roe and Lott come to the face off circle. Lott wins the draw and gets to the ground ball. Michigan’s offense wants another goal and Paras takes a shot that goes wide. Michigan has a turnover and Stags are able to clear. McLinden takes a shot that goes wide. Stags backup. Sophomore Conor Dalton takes a shot that Zonino saves. He starts the clear and the Michigan offense goes to work. Stags defense keeps them out for over a minute. A shot by Michigan’s Schlosser finds the cage at 10:14. Fairfield now leads 8-6 on the unassisted goal. Roe and Lott face off with Lott taking this draw and getting the ground ball. But Michigan has a turnover and Murphy roams out of the cage to get the ground ball. Stags clear into the offensive zone but the attack is frustrated when Michigan’s Paras gets a caused turnover. Michigan tries to clear but the Stags attack is riding hard. McLinden gets a caused turnover and he gets to the ground ball. McLinden settles the offense with 8:53 in the period. With 8:04 remaining in the third quarter, Warden takes a shot that Zonino saves. Looks like the Michigan goal keeper has made some sort of adjustment as the Stags were beating him in the first half easily. The rebound ground ball is picked up by Michigan’s Chris Walker and he starts the clear. Stags defensive players are playing hard. Sophomore Conor Barr gets a caused turnover and Fleming scoops up the ground ball. Stags clear and look for the chance to score. A couple of missed passes has first Sperry then Warden and finally Federico scooping up ground balls. This is partially because the Michigan defense is getting aggressive. Too aggressive for the officials as two separate fouls are called. Paras gets one minute for slashing and Walker goes to the box with one minute for tripping. Stags go on the man up offense with Michigan being down two players with 5:54 showing on the clock for the third period. Fairfield whips it around the Michigan box defense. Warden’s shot goes wide. Next McLinden tries and his shot is wide. This is followed up by a shot by Sophomore Mikey Gulasey that is wide. Stags keep firing when McLinden’s shot is high. Officials call Michigan is closest to the ball after the McLinden’s shot at 5:09. Wolverines clear the zone and kill off the balance of the two man penalty. Stags defense is limiting the Michigan’s offenses shots. King takes a shot at 4:06 that is blocked. Stags take control and slow things down. Warden looks to get Fairfield back on the board but his shot is saved by Zonino. Fairfield keeps the ball. The Michigan’s Walker gets a caused turnover with 2:47 left in the quarter. Wolverines clear. Paras shoots but it goes wide. Michigan keeps the ball and they can not get off a quick shot. Finally at 1:06, Jackson takes a shot that Murphy saves. Stags clear and hold the ball waiting for one last good shot. With 8 seconds remaining in the period, Stags have a turnover. Michigan’s Gembis gets the ground ball. Third period ends with the Stags still in the lead by an 8-6 score.
Fourth quarter starts with the game on the line. Roe and Lott face off to start the final 15 minutes. Lott takes the draw and gets to the ground ball. Michigan’s offense works hard and fast. Paras passes to Jackson who scores at 14:22. The Stags lead in now down to one- 8 to 7. Time to go downstairs and get the Fairfield Lacrosse Jacket! Roe and Lott take the second face off of the final period. Fleming takes a quick shot that is blocked. Neubauer gets the ground ball and Fairfield retains possession. Stags work the offense and take time off the clock. Officials stop play at 12:59 for a holding penalty on Michigan’s Chase Brown. The Stags EMO team has a chance to give the team some breathing room. They move the ball around but have a turnover. Michigan clears and their offense is looking for the tieing goal. King fires a shot that goes wide. Next Joseph takes a shot that is blocked. Paras gets to the ground ball but a turnover is committed right away. Fairfield clears the ball and goes on offense. Federico has a shot saved by Zonino at 10:05. Zonino gets to the rebound ground ball. He starts the clear. Wolverine’s offense only waits 30 seconds before taking a shot. Hernandez shoots. Murphy sees the shot all the way and makes the save. He starts the Stags clear. Fairfield’s offense takes some time off the clock. Sperry dodges past his defender but Zonino is locked in and makes the save. Neubauer gets to the rebound ground ball and he sends a shot wide. McLinden gets the ball on the backup. Michigan’s defense is trying to get the ball. Michigan’s Gembis gets a caused turnover. Wolverines’ Hatton gets the ground ball and he starts the clear. Michigan’s offense is facing a determined Stags defense. Michigan has a turnover and the Stags get the ball into the offensive zone. Coach Copelan uses his first time out at 6:43 to settle down the team and set up the next offensive set. Stags restart the offense. Senior Alex Cramer sees an opening, takes a shot but Zonino makes the save. Federico gets to the rebound ground ball. He pulls the ball out and Fairfield now restarts the offense. Michigan’s Brown gets a caused turnover with 5:41 remaining in the game. Brown gets to the ground ball and he starts the clear. Less than five minutes left in the game and Jackson fires a wide shot. McCormick shoots a second shot wide at 4:36 that goes wide. Michigan retains the ball on the backup. Stags defense is not giving the Wolverines any room to shoot. Michigan’s coach calls time out at 3:41 to set up a plan. Wolverines restart. Jackson takes a shot that Murphy saves. Murphy starts the Fairfield clear. Stags offense look for a good shot. Sperry takes the ball behind the cage. He spots Federico cutting to the cage. Federico buries his shot giving Fairfield a 9 to 7 lead on Sperry assist with 2:12 left in the game. Roe and Lott take an important face off. Lott wins the face off and gets the ground ball. He starts the Michigan offense. Joseph scores unassisted to make it a one goal game again with 1:37 left in the contest. Stags continue to lead 9-8. Another important face off. Roe and Lott go to the X. Roe beats Lott and gets the ground ball. Stags get the ball into the box. Coach Copelan calls his second time out with 1:29 remaining in the game. Stags restart with the Michigan trying to double the ball and Zonino outside the cage. McLinden fires a shot at the empty net but it is wide. Officials say Michigan is closest to the ball when it goes out of bounds. Questionable call. The homer Michigan announcers state the Wolverines got a great break. Michigan’s coach takes his second time out. Wolverines restart with the Stags’ defense playing tough. With 49 ticks left on the clock, Michigan’s Paras has a turnover. Fairfield tries to clear but the ball is loose. The ball is bouncing around the field. Stags get the ball with 22 seconds left in the game and successfully clear the ball. Horn ends the game with Stags winning 9-8. Total relief from the coaches, the players, parents and the Stags lacrosse family. A win is a win!!!
Michigan outshot the Stags by a 34 to 29 margin. Murphy and Zonino both had eight saves for the game with Zonino getting six saves in the second half of the game. Fairfield won the ground ball battle getting to 29 gbs while the Wolverines got 24 gbs. Stags had 14 turnovers versus the 12 turnovers by Michigan. Lott had three face off violations while Roe and DiGiacomo did not commit any face off turnovers. Roe and DiGiacomo combined for 13 face off wins out of 20 draws. Lott won only three draws in the first half out of 13 chances. Stags cleared successfully 14 out or 16 chances while Michigan cleared 17 of 18 opportunities. Stags did not score on three extra man chances. One was at the end of the first period. The Stags has a 30 second opportunity but only 22 seconds in the first quarter and 8 seconds in the second quarter. Fairfield did not receive any penalties. Thus Michigan had no chances for an extra man.
Stars of the Game-Junior Colin McLinden who in the first half had two goals and three assists for a five point game. He also scooped up two ground balls. McLinden suffered a hand injury in the second half that cut into his effectiveness. Junior Drew Federico got the game winner for the Stags in his two goal game. Think this is his first career game winning goal for the Stags. Federico got to three ground balls. Senior Michael Roe won 11 of 16 face offs along with seven ground balls. Freshman Dave Fleming scored two goals and got to two ground balls. Junior Tristan Sperry got the first goal of the game and assisted on Federico’s winning goal. Sperry also grabbed two grounds. Freshman Jake Knostman got a goal and an assist. Senior Eric Warden continued his consecutive game goal scoring streak and got to two ground balls. Sophomore TJ Neubauer got one assist and six ground balls playing on the wing during the face offs. He had a goal wiped out when the officials ruled he was in the crease despite clearly getting a push in the back by a Michigan defender. (Sorry fellow officials. Even the Michigan announcers were amazed at the call). Senior Jack Murphy had eight saves and his defense limited Michigan to taking wide shots. Seniors Toby Armour and Greg Perraut along with Junior Max Buchanan helped Murphy limit the Wolverines to eight goals despite 34 shots.
Frosh of the Year-Continues to be a close battle as both players in contention for this honor are playing great. David Fleming now has 17 goals and four assists for 21 points. Fleming has scored a goal in every game this season. Jake Knostman has 10 goals and five assists for 15 points. Impressive numbers for both first year players! This game had the first Fleming from Knostman goal of their careers. Looking forward to seeing that connection over the next three years. Soph of the Year-TJ Neubauer continues to play well, scoring, when he is playing on the wing for face offs and staying on the field in transition at midfield playing strong defense. Not many middies in this game of specialization can play both ways. Currently he has 21 goals and three assists for 24 points in the season.
The Stags looked great on offense in the first. Almost a scoring clinic with the passing, cutting and scoring. Second half the offense never clicked. Was it the Michigan goal keeper getting hot, defensive adjustments or the long travel? Good teams win when they have a bad day. Reading my pre game report, I stated the Wolverines would be a tough out. Fairfield had a “bad” second half. In this era of parity in college lacrosse, Stags came home with a conference win, have a 9-2 overall record and 2-0 in ECAC play with three games left to play in the regular season. As a fan, am I expecting too much when the defense holds a team to eight goals? Last time out they held a team to three goals. Why not only four goals? The offense gets eight goals in the first half and has its first bad “half” all season. Why can’t the team get 15 plus goals every game? I hope as a fan my expectations are not getting too great. Stags have only one game this week playing Air Force Academy at the USAF campus. The Falcons have a five game winning streak with a 7-3 overall record and 2-0 in ECAC Lacrosse League play. Game is scheduled to a 12 noon start CST. Full pregame report later this week. Best Regards- Roger Yergeau ’73