To the Founders and Friends of Fairfield Lacrosse-The #14/#17 Fairfield Stags beat Ohio State in a defensive struggle by a 7-5 score. The game was played on Lessing Field in mids 60s temps and light winds. A big crowd attended the game. Ohio State scored first but the Stags responded with two straight goals to conclude the first quarter. The Stags never relinquished the lead after the first period. Senior Goal Keeper Jack Murphy played great in goal getting eight saves, two caused turnovers and seven ground balls. Senior Michael Roe dominated the face off circle, winning 9 of 14 draws and getting to six ground balls. Offensively the Stags were lead by Sophomore TJ Neubauer who scored two goals and Junior Colin McLinden scoring one goal and getting two assists. Freshman David Fleming continued his 13 game goal scoring streak with a goal and one assist. The Stags are now 11-3 overall in the 2014 season and 3-1 in ECAC Lacrosse League play. Ohio State dropped to 6-7 overall and 3-1 in ECAC Lacrosse League. The win against Ohio State secured the Stags being the #1 seed in the ECAC Lacrosse League Tournament to be played at Jesse Owens Stadium on the campus of Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State will play Air Force in the other semi final game. Both games will be played on May 1st and the finals of the ECAC Lacrosse League will be played on Saturday May 3rd. The winner will receive a bid to the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament.
It must be noted that Senior Co-Captain Greg Perraut was starting for the Stags in this game. Perraut has started every game in his Fairfield career. Against Ohio State, he set the record for most starts in a career for the Fairfield Lacrosse program. Congratulations to Greg setting this record and his great play in his stellar Stags lacrosse career!!
All the pregame hype is done and the game is ready to start. There was heavy rain on Friday night and there is concern about the footing on the Lessing Field natural grass surface. Will that be a factor in the game? Ohio State’s hot goal keeper Spencer Scott is ready along with Senior Jack Murphy in between the pipes for the Stags. Senior Michael Roe is at the face off circle for Fairfield and Jake Withers takes the draw for the Buckeyes. Roe wins the draw cleanly and gets the ground ball. Stags offense works into its first set but have a turnover in the first 25 seconds of the game. Ohio State’s first clear is good. The Buckeyes work the ball and OSU’s Turner Evans takes a shot that is blocked. Murphy gets the ball but the Stags clear fails. Coach Copelan tells the team to settle down. A lot is at stake for this game and the team maybe too hyped for the Senior Day contest. The Buckeyes move the ball around the horn. OSU’s Jesse King takes a shot that finds the back of the net. Ohio State takes a 1-0 lead on the unassisted goal at 12:37 of the first period. Withers and Roe come out to take the second face off of the day. Roe plunges and rakes getting credit for the ground ball and the face off win. Stags have the ball in the box but commit another turnover. OSU’s Dominic Imbordino gets the ground ball. Buckeye’s clear is good. Ohio State works the offensive set and David Planning’s shot hits the post! Murphy goes out of the cage to get the ground ball. He starts the clear. Fairfield is now in its fourth offensive set of the game and they settle things down. The deliberate Stags offense gets a stall warning by the officials at 10:06. Fairfield has 30 seconds to get a shot on the cage. Offense goes into overdrive. Freshman Jake Knostman hits cutting Senior Alex Cramer with a pass. Cramer fires the pass into the goal. Game is now tied at 1-1 with 9:56 on the first quarter clock. Knostman gets an assist on Cramer’s fourth goal of the season. Withers comes to the X to battle Roe. Roe again wins the draw, gets the ground ball and starts the offense. Sophomore TJ Neubauer has the ball and his first shot of the day gets by the OSU’s goal keeper. Stags now lead 2-1 with 9:25 left in the first period. Withers and Roe face off again. Withers gets his first face off win and he gets to the ground ball. Ohio State takes their time on offense. Too much for the officials as the give a stall warning to OSU at 7:55. The pressure is on the Buckeyes to take a shot. Buckeyes’ King takes the shot at 7:49 but Murphy gets the save. Stags clear and set up their offense. Senior Eric Warden takes a shot the Spencer saves. Buckeyes clear into the offensive zone. Ohio State works the ball when Murphy comes out of the cage. Murphy gets the caused turnover and the resulting ground ball. He starts the clear but it is unsuccessful when the Stags have a turnover with 5:40 remaining in the quarter. Ohio State’s offense looks for that seam for almost a minute. Buckeyes’ Planning takes a shot that hits the pipe! Second pipe shot in the first quarter for OSU. Buckeyes keep the ball backing up. With 4:12 on the clock in the first period, OSU’s J.T. Blubaugh takes a shot that goes wide. Stags out race the Buckeyes to the end line. Fairfield ball. The Stags clear works well and the Fairfield attack goes to work. Junior Colin McLinden works his way around the cage, takes a shot but Spencer makes the save at the 3:19 mark. Ohio State clears and their offense takes its time going to the cage. Buckeyes’ Ryan Hunter takes a shot that is blocked by the Fairfield defense with 2:10 still left to play in the first quarter. Hunter finds the ground ball and the Buckeyes offense resets. Withers has the ball and takes a shot that is saved by Murphy. Fairfield starts the clear with 1:18 left to play in the first stanza. The Stags clear is headed toward a “failure to advance” call when Coach Copelan uses his first time out of the first half to retain the ball with 47 seconds still to play. He uses the time out retain possession of the ball and to design up a play for the Stags offense. Stags restart and wind the clock down. Freshman Dave Fleming fires a hard shot with 13 ticks left but the shot goes wide and Fairfield has no backup. OSU’s ball. Buckeyes try on the clear to take a long shot but Murphy gets a caused turnover and the ground ball with three seconds remaining in the quarter. Fairfield leads 2-1 when the horn sounds ending the first quarter ends.
Second quarter starts with Junior Louis DiGiacomo facing off against Withers. Withers wins the draw and OSU’s Dominic Imbordino gets to the ground ball. Buckeyes start their offense but have a quick turnover at 14:26. Murphy comes out of the cage and grabs the ground ball. Stags clear into the box and the offense start its first chance of the quarter. After passing the ball for almost a minute, Fairfield has a turnover. Ohio State’ Robby Haus gets the ground ball but Junior Tristan Sperry is riding hard. He gets a caused turnover at 13:00 to allow the Stags to retain possession. The Fairfield offense restarts looking for a good shot. Neubaurer shot at 12:21 is saved by the OSU goalkeeper. The rebound ground ball is scooped up by Sophomore Conor Dalton. Stags move the ball around the perimeter quickly. McLinden finds the cutting Neubauer. The ball is into the back of the net with Neubauer getting his second goal of the day with an assist from the assist master McLinden. Fairfield now has a 3-1 lead with 12:06 left in the second quarter. DiGiacomo and Withers take the face off. Officials call a violation on DiGiacomo. Buckeyes ball and they go on the attack. After working the ball for a minute, Buckeyes’ Planning takes a shot. Murphy makes the save and the Stags clear is good. Fairfield offense is working to find a good shot. Fleming flicks a pass to McLinden. McLinden finds an opening bottom shelve. McLinden scores with an assist from Fleming to extend the lead to 4-1 with 12:06 remaining in the first half. Ohio State calls a time out to regroup. Roe is back at the face off circle against Withers. Officials call a violation on Withers. Stags ball. Fairfield is working its offensive set. McLinden at 9:09 pops around the cage and takes a shot. It hits the post! Ohio State gets the ball and they clear into the offensive zone. Both teams’ offenses are taking their time. After taking a minute off the clock. Ohio State’s King shot at 8:21 is stopped by Murphy. Senior Greg Perraut gets the ground ball on the rebound. He starts the Stags clear. After the clear, Stags loose the ball but Senior Shawn Honovich gets the ground ball. Dalton takes a quick shot that goes wide. Fairfield keeps the ball but OSU’s Evan Mulchrone gets a caused turnover. Buckeyes Chris Mahoney picks the ground ball. Quickly Mahoney fires a shot that gets into the goal. Ohio State cuts the Fairfield lead to 4-2 with 6:46 remaining to play in the second quarter. Roe and Withers come out again to the face off circle. Roe wins the face off and gets the ground ball. Stags offense works the ball around and are being very patient waiting for the right shot. Stags have a bad pass and the ball is the corner. Cramer rushes to the ball and gets it into his stick. Before he gets pushed out of bounds, Coach Copelan uses his second time out of the half. Great call by Coach Copelan. Joe Kern turns to me and asks if I thought Cramer had the ball in his stick. Cramer had the ball just barely enough time for the official to grant the Stags the time out! The time was called with 5:22 left in the half. Stags restart and work the offensive set. The officials think the Stags are not going to the cage and call a stall at 4:32. Fairfield has 30 seconds to take a shot on the goal. OSU’s Joe Mercer creates a turnover and he gets the ground ball at 4:22. Buckeyes clear is successful. Ohio State’s offense wants a goal and are probing the Stags defense. Turner Evans takes a shot at the 3:25 mark. Murphy makes the save. Murphy is seeing the ball and playing great. He starts the clear and Fairfield’s offense goes to work. Patience and working the ball around the cage to find that seam for a good shot. The officials call stall at 1:53 forcing the Stags to take a shot. McLinden takes a shot that goes wide at 1:39. Buckeyes win the race to the end line on the shot. Ohio State’s ball. They clear the ball into the box but their offense cannot get a shot off. Ohio State calls time out with 39 seconds left in the quarter. Buckeyes restart after the timeout. With 15 seconds remaining in the half, Ohio State has a turnover. Perraut gets to the loose ground ball. Stags clear the defensive zone. Sophomore Conor Barr gets a ground ball in the end of half chaos with 1 second left. He fires a shot over the cage. Horn sounds for halftime. Stags lead the game 4-2.
The third quarter starts with Roe and Withers to take the face off. Officials call a violation on Withers. Stags ball to start the second half. Fairfield offense works the OSU defense. After one minute, Senior Eric Warden takes a shot that Spencer saves. He starts the clear and now OSU’s offense looks for an opening. Buckeyes’ Carter Brown passes to a cutting Ryan Hunter. Hunter scores an assisted goal at 13:12 to narrow the score to 4-3 in the Stags favor. Withers and Roe meet once again at the X. Withers wins this draw and his wing Imbordino gets to the ground ball. Ohio State’s offense now faces an aggressive Stags defense. Junior Max Buchanan quickly gets a caused turnover and Murphy jumps on the ground ball to start the clear at 11:51. Buckeyes’ Robby Haus quickly gets a caused turnover and the ground ball back for OSU. Ohio State gets the ball into the offensive zone box but now Perraut has a caused turnover. Perraut starts the clear and the Stags slow things down in the offensive zone at 10:47. Fairfield works the Buckeyes defense for almost a minute when McLinden come up on top. He spots a cutting Junior Nick Guida. Guida buries his shot into the back of the net. Stags now lead 5-3 on the assisted goal at 9:46 in the third period. Guida has been plagued with injuries for most of the season and is back on the field. Great to see him get on the scoring sheets! Withers and Roe renew their battle at the X. Withers win the drawn and the ground ball. Buckeyes offense is finding the Stags defense very tight. Ohio State has an errant pass and the Stags clear the ball at 8:51. Stags offense works for another good shot. Fleming has a shot that Spencer saves. OSU clears and their offense works the Stags defense while a flag is down. An Ohio State player wards thus ending the slow whistle at 7:24. Cramer was called offside and serves a 30 second penalty. Fairfield’s man down unit and Ohio State’s man up units come on the field for the first time in the game. Stags successfully kill the penalty and Ohio State has a turnover. Senior Shawn Honovich gets to the ground ball and start the clear with 6:49 showing on the clock. Knostman takes a quick shot that Spencer saves. Stags get the rebound ground ball. Fairfield works the ball around finding the OSU defense tightens up. The officials call a stall warning against the Stags at 4:56. Fairfield’s offense quickens its pace. Sperry dodges his defender but his shot hits the post! Shot clock is now off but Ohio State’s Meurer has a caused turnover at 4:16. OSU’s Haus gets the ground ball and he starts the clear. Buckeyes take time off the clock. Finally OSU’s John Kelly goes to the cage and scores at 3:17 left in the quarter. Fairfield now leads 5-4. Withers and Roe continue their battle. Roe wins the draw and ground ball but the Stags have a quick turnover. OSU start their clear at 2:54 still remaining in the third quarter. Buckeyes face a strong Stags defense. OSU’s Evans takes a shot at 1:40 but Murphy makes the save. Stags clear and work the clock. Sperry goes to the cage and takes a shot. Spencer makes the save with 34 seconds remaining. OSU clears the ball. Barr is playing aggressively and creates a caused turnover with 10 seconds left in the third stanza. Senior Toby Armour gets to the ground ball but Fairfield has a turnover. Neubauer gets a caused turnover back and he gets to the ground ball. Horn sounds announcing the chaotic end of the third period. Fairfield now leads 5-4 with 15 minutes left to go in the game.
A close fought game and a large crowd are waiting to see the final outcome. Withers and Roe take the first face off on the fourth quarter. Roe wins the face off and Barr get to the ground ball. Stags offense start a set play. Fairfield clears out the left side of the field with Warden having the ball in his stick. Warden takes his man one on one. He beats the defender. His shot is in the back of the net. Fairfield now leads 6-4 with 14:08 remaining in the game. Great offensive play calling by Coach Copelan. Roe continues to take the face off against Withers. Officials call a violation on Ohio State. Stags start on offense. Sperry gets a loose ground ball on an errant pass to keep the ball in the Stags sticks at 13:42. Fleming, instead of one his high heat shots, takes a bounce shot on the grass past Spencer. Stags now lead 7-4 on the unassisted goal with 13:07 left in the game. Withers and Roe take the face off. Roe starts too early and officials call a violation on the Stags. Ohio State’s ball. OSU needs to score and their attack goes into high gear. First Reegan Comeault has a shot blocked. Then Ryan Hunter fires a shot that goes wide. Buckeyes retain the ball and next John Kelly takes a shot that goes wide. OSU keeps the ball on the backup. Buckeyes make a bad pass with 11:14 left in the game and have a turnover. Stags quickly clear the defensive half of the field and get the ball into the box. Fairfield is in no rush with a three goal lead and takes the air out of the ball. Officials call the stall and put the Stags on the 30 second shot clock at 9:38 remaining. OSU’s Haus gets a caused turnover and teammate Evan Mulchrone gets to the ground ball. Ohio State is able to clear the ball into the offensive half. Stags’ defense is not allowing the Buckeyes to find any openings. Ohio State works the ball for over a minute with no shots when they commit a turnover at 7:47. Murphy goes out of the crease to get the ground ball. Stags clear the ball and Coach Copelan calls his first time out of the second half with 7:29 still left to play. Great time to give the players a quick break and talk about the offense. Stags restart their offense after the time out. Fleming takes a quick shot that is blocked. Stags get to the ground ball but have a turnover. Ohio State attempts to clear the ball. Stags are riding hard with Warden getting a caused turnover with 6:38 left in the game. Warden gets to the ground ball. He spots McLinden who is behind the Buckeyes defenders. McLinden takes the pass and drive to the cage with no defenders. His shot hits the post! Ohio State’s Chris Mahoney gets the ground ball on the rebound off the post. This time Ohio State’s clear is good with 6:25 showing on the clock. OSU’s King takes a shot that goes wide. Buckeye’s coach calls time out at 5:19. Ohio State restarts and they are shooting. First Hunter takes a shot that goes wide. Next Kelly’s shot is saved by Murphy. The rebound ground ball is scooped up by King. He turns and shoots but his shot is wide. Buckeyes’ Carter Brown scores unassisted with 4:45 remaining in the game. Stags lead 7-5. Withers and Roe take the face off. Withers wins the draw and his wing Michael Italiano gets to the ground ball. Twenty seconds into OSU offensive set, Barr gets a caused turnover. He picks up the ground ball and starts the clear. Stags offense works the defensive perimeter taking time off the clock. Warden spots a crease but his shot at 3:17 is wide. Stags retain the ball when Knostman gets to ground ball. Coach Copelan calls a time out at 2:57 to keep the ball and set up the attack for the last part of the game. Fairfield restarts and Neubauer takes a shot at 2:28 that Spencer saves. OSU’s Imbordino gets to the ground ball. Ohio State clears and Carter Brown takes a fast shot. The shot goes wide with 2:14 left in the game. Stags get the ball and complete the clear. McLinden goes one on one against the Buckeyes defense. His shot at 1:42 is saved by Spencer. He gets the ground ball and starts the clear. When in the offensive zone, OSU uses its last time out of the game at the 1:27 mark of the game. OSU restarts and are firing immediately. First King fires a shot that goes high. Next Brown’s shot is blocked. Brown gets to the ground ball with 1:04 left in the game. Brown passes to Evans whose shot is wide. OSU’s Kelly’s’ shot is saved by Murphy with 54 seconds left in the game. He starts the clear and the Stags offense quickly passes the ball around the field to end the game. Fairfield 7 and Ohio State 5 is the final result.
Ohio State out shot Fairfield by a 28 to 25 margin. Stag won the ground ball battle getting to 31 gabs versus 20 gbs for the Buckeyes. Both teams had two violations called at the face off circle. Fairfield won 9 of the 16 face offs taken in the game. On clears, Stags were successful on 19 of 21 clears while OSU cleared successfully 17 of 19 clears. There was only one extra man chance on the day. It was a 30 second penalty for an offsides foul called on Fairfield. OSU could not convert. Spencer for Ohio State was credited with 9 saves during the game and Murphy had 8 saves. OSU had 15 turnovers while the Stags had 13 turnovers.
Stars of the Game-Seniors Jack Murphy and Michael Roe. Murphy had eight saves, two caused turnovers and seven ground balls. Most importantly, Murphy was “on” and “seeing the ball”. He was aggressive and along with his defense kept denying OSU chances to score. Roe was 9 of 14 at the face off circle. He was credited with six ground balls and was dominate at the X. Roe’s play in the past month has been getting improving each week. After his injury plagued 2013 season, the 2012 Roe is back. Offensively Sophomore TJ Neubauer scored two first half goals. He also had one caused turnover and one ground ball. Gutty Junior Colin McLinden had a goal and two assists. McLinden continues to climb the Stags career assist leader board. Senior Eric Warden scored a goal but it was the sixth goal of the game for the Stags. His goal not only gave Fairfield a two goal lead in the fourth period but this was the game winning goal. I have to look back but I think this is Warden’s sixth game winning goal in the 2014 season. Great to see Junior Nick Guida scoring. Our two exceptional Freshmen just continue in every game to make big contributions. Jake Knostman had an assist and ground ball while David Fleming scored a goal and an assist while picking up a ground ball. Senior Alex Cramer scored a key first half goal on Senior Day and also got a ground ball.
Notable Play on the Field- The Stags defense week after week just keeps “bringing it”. Senior Greg Perraut got three ground balls and a caused turnover, Toby Armour had a ground ball and a caused turnover and Junior Max Buchanan has one caused turnover. The D Middies played great. Senior Shawn Honovich got to two ground balls, Sophmore Conor Barr had three ground balls and two caused turnovers. Though there were no official stats for Junior Bryan Barry, Seniors Pete De Salvo, Geordie Carrick, and Freshman Jay Walsh, their play shut down the OSU midfield. The entire defense frustrated the Ohio State attack the entire game. Great job to the Stags defense and the defensive middies!
Frosh of the Year-David Fleming now has 22 goals and seven assists for 29 points. Fleming has scored a goal in every 2014 game for the Stags. Jake Knostman contributed 13 goals and seven assists for 20 points. I do not recall ever having two freshman players scoring 20 or more points. Outstanding freshman seasons!! Soph of the Year-TJ Neubarer is leading the team in goals with 31 and has passed for five assists for 35 points. He is second on the team on ground balls with 39 gbs on his stats line. Can not say enough about Neubauer’s play in the 2014 season.
Seen in the Stands-Can not list everyone who is Stags Alum who attended the game. Many of the players who played for Ted Spencer came to the game to honor Ted’s induction into the Fairfield Athletic Hall of Fame. The Founders were well represented. Coach Will Mraz ’73 who is also the Chairman of the Friends of Fairfield Lacrosse was working in his role for the Friends and attending the game. Responding to personal calls, Hall of Fame Larry Puzzo ’73 attended his first game in many years and Mike Brannigan ’77 came to his first game in 2014. Bob Cypher ’77 came from Rye, NY and Tony Merola ’74 drove in from Carmel, NY. Joe Kern ’74 came to the game from Garden City, NY. Don Starski ’73 attended the Friends reception, the stadium groundbreaking and the game from Enfield, CT. Trustee Brian Hull ’80 was smiling ear to ear all day. Former Stags who played for Ted Spencer included Travis Nelson, Gary Raniola, Matt Petre, Billy Honovich, Tim Zino, Tim Gazzini, J.T. Groake, Matt Callaghan, Chris Atwell and Tom Werney. From the 1987 team came Joe Sargent, Bob Sullivan and his son, Breck Masterson, Gerald O’Hara, and John Callageri. Team 1987er Darrell Ponzio brought a contingent from his Middletown, CT Lacrosse League including Bill Peet and and Robert Tockarshewsky. Darrell brought his sons Calvin and James to the game while Bill had his daughter Kate and Meghan. Coming with Rob to Fairfield were his wife Barbara and his daughters Oliva and Carlie and his son Matthew. Maybe some future Stags laxers? In the VIP seats were Trustees Bill Atwell, Steve Lessing and most importantly Larry Rafferty. My apologies if I missed any one.
The goal for the Ohio State game was a win to take a share of the ECAC Lacrosse League regular season title and most importantly grab the #1 seed for the ECAC Lacrosse League Tournament. Mission accomplished. Fairfield got the #1 seed on the first tie breaker, best overall record. Overall it was a great team effort. Offense scored against a tough OSU defense and a hot goal tender, great face off play, and the Fairfield goal tender was hot and his defense that shut down the Canadian gunners. The Stags D also played tough as nails! The coaching job of Andy Copelan and his staff has to be noted. Coach Copelan called two critical timeouts to keep Stags offensive efforts alive. Beautiful day for Senior Day and for the groundbreaking for Rafferty Stadium. Now on to Ohio State and Jessie Owens Stadium on May 1st to take on the Michigan Wolverines in the first semi final game of the ECAC Lacrosse League Tournament. Roger Yergeau ’73