Fairfield Lacrosse 2014 Season Recap

To the Founders and Friends of Fairfield Lacrosse- My apologies for taking so long to do the 2014 season recap. Wanted to spend some time reflecting on the season and plus a lot of lacrosse officiating and family time. The Fairfield Stags ended the year having achieved a 12-4 season record. During the 2014 season, the 12 wins are the most wins in the program’s history for the second time. In 2012, the Stags won also 12 games. It was also the second time the Fairfield lacrosse program had a seven game winning streak also achieved in the 2012 season. The team beat two teams ranked in the Top Ten in the National polls in the 2014 season. Stags were Nationally ranked much of the season. The final weekly polls had Fairfield ranked #18 in the USILA Coaches Poll and #20 in the Warrior Media Poll. Stags were ranked as high as #11 in the Country. Fairfield played in the Finals of the ECAC Lacrosse League Tournament for the third time in the last four years. It was great season for the team and a great job of coaching by Andy Copelan and his staff. Every season has its highs and lows. The 2014 Fairfield Men’s Lacrosse Team achieved many highs and only a handful of lows.
The “spring” 2014 season started at the University of Delaware in February. The Blue Hens are part of the Colonial Athletic Conference and now will be on the Stags schedule in 2015 and future seasons. Fairfield got the season off to a fast start winning the game 18-8. Both Senior Eric Warden and Junior Tristan Sperry lead the Stags with five goals. Warden also had one assist and Sperry had two assists. Junior Colin McLinden switching to attack this season had two goals and one assist. Freshman Jake Knostman has two goals in his first collegiate game. Senior Jack Murphy had 8 saves for the day. Opening the season at home against Manhattan College, the Stags continued their offensive fireworks winning 18-4. Murphy lead the defense with 10 saves. Offensively, Warden had three goals, Sperry scored two goals and three assists. Junior Drew Federico contributed two goals. From the FOGO spot, Junior Louis DiGiacomo went 6 of 12 from the X and Freshman Jake Kaiser won four of six draws. Stags traveled to Long Island to take on another future CAA Conference school, Hofstra. Hofstra beat the Stags by a 9-7 score. Warden, Federico and Freshman David Fleming all had two goals in the game while Murphy made 8 saves.
Providence College played the Stags at Alumni Field in the first game for the month of March. The Friars upset the Stags by a 14-11 score. Sophomore TJ Neubauer had three goals and one assist while Sperry had two goals and two assists. Warden, Knostman and Fleming had two goals in the game. At the face off circle, DiGiacomo won seven of eight face offs he took. In the first real spring like lacrosse weather day of the season, #10 Yale came to Fairfield. Before a large crowd, Fairfield beat Yale for the first time in the program’s history. It was an exciting game with final score being 11- 10 in OT. McLinden had a career day getting six assists and scored one goal. Neubauer and Warden both scored three goals. Warden got the game winner in OT with an assist from McLinden. Knostman had two goals and Murphy had nine saves in the win. Stony Brook came to Fairfield for a game that was one of two halves. Stags jumped out to a 10-2 lead but two late second quarter goals gave the Seawolves the momentum needed for the second half. Fairfield won the game 15-13. Stags were paced offensively by Neubaurer who had a career day with five goals and one assist. Fleming got three goals and one assist. McLinden had two goals and two assists and Federico hit the back of the net twice. Murphy had 15 saves in this game. UMass came to town nationally ranked #10 with a high flying offense. The Stags defense shut down UMass allowing only five goals. Fairfield won the game by an 11-5 margin. This game started to turn heads in the lacrosse world that the Stags were a force. McLinden paced the offense with three goals and one assist while Warden connected on three goals. Sperry scored two goals while Murphy had 10 saves on the day. Fairfield next journeyed to Massachusetts to play Holy Cross. The Crusaders played the Stags tough but Fairfield prevailed 11-9. Warden had three goals while Sperry had two goals and one assist. McLinden had one goal and two assists. Fairfield opened the ECAC Lacrosse League schedule with a road game against Bellarmine . It was a cold rainy day in Kentucky but the Stags came home with an impressive 9-3 win. The Stags defense completely shut down Bellarmine’s offense only allowing three goals. Senior Michael Roe had a great game at the face off circle winning 9 of 12 draws. Sperry had 2 goals and one assist, Ward scored two goals and McLinden scored one goal and two assists.
The month of April starts with the Stags coming off the road, to take on Bucknell, Coach Andy Copelan’s alma mater. Final score was 10-6. The Stags defense shut down the Bison’s offense. Murphy had 11 saves and McLinden had one goal and three assists. Roe took 5 of 9 face offs and DiGiacomo had 6 wins out of 10 draws. Fairfield played in the Big House in Ann Arbor taking on Michigan’s lacrosse team after the spring football game. Stags jumped out to an 8-4 halftime lead but scored only one goal in the second half. The final score was 9-8. McLinden scored two goals and had three assists before being injured in the third period. Both Fleming and Federico had two goals to help cement the win. Fairfield next traveled to Colorado Springs, CO to take on the Air Force Academy Falcons. Stags came into the game with a seven game win streak but Air Force had won four straight and it was Senior Day at the Academy. Ever have one of those days where everything seems to go wrong? That’s what happened to the Fairfield lacrosse team. Stags lost the game 16-8 and Federico for the season. Fleming had three goals and an assist while classmate Knostman scored two goals and had one assist. Another bright spot was that Roe won 11 of 20 face offs. Fairfield had a quick turn around and played intra state rival Quinnipiac in Hamden, CT. Fairfield and Quinnipiac played a tight game until the Stags pulled away in the game’s late stages to win 15-10. Neubuaer had a career day scoring six goals and one assist in addition to getting several ground balls and caused turnovers. Roe won 10 of 19 face offs. The final regular season game was an ECAC League game was against Ohio State. Game was on Lessing Field, plus it was Senior Day, ground breaking of Rafferty Stadium, and installing Ted Spencer into the Fairfield Athletic Hall of Fame at halftime. Winner of the game gets the #1 seed in the ECAC Lacrosse League Tournament. Stags and Buckeyes played a low scoring defensive battle. Fairfield prevailed winning the game by a 7-5 score. Neubauer had two goals for the game while McLinden scored one goal and had two assists. Roe was 9 of 14 from the face off circle. Murphy and the Stags defense were outstanding. Murphy recorded 11 saves for the game.
May is ECAC Lacrosse League Tournament time with Ohio State hosting the Tournament. Stags had the #1 seed to begin play. Fairfield played the # 4 seed Michigan in the first of game of the Tournament. Only three goals were scored in the first half. Fairfield got a comfortable lead at the third quarter and finished with seven goals in the fourth quarter to end the game by a 12-5 score. McLinden had a career high of four goals for the day. Scoring two goals were Warden, Neubauer and Sperry. Roe won 13 of 20 face offs. Murphy had 15 saves for the game including 8 saves in the second quarter. In the ECAC Finals, Fairfield faced Air Force. The game was tied at halftime; Air Force got a three goal lead by the end of third period. Stags tried to force OT being down be a goal but Warden’s hard shot with 9 seconds remaining in the game is kicked out the Air Force goalkeeper. Season ends with the Stags being denied a NCAA bid by one goal.
The team scored 181 goals this season after taking 491 shots. Fairfield averaged 11.31 goals per game with a shooting percentage of .369. The shooting percentage was one of the highest shot percentages in the country. Opponents scored 135 goals with 557 shots being taken. The opposition’s season scoring average was 8.44. Shot percentage was .242. Stags averaged 30.7 shots per game while the opposition had a 34.8 shot percentage. Fairfield had 91 assisted goals and 90 unassisted goals. The opponents had 68 assists this season with 67 goals being unassisted. Fairfield’s man up unit scored 16 goals off of 45 attempts for a .356 conversion rate. The opponents combined for 12 extra man goals after 41 chances for a .293 conversion rate. The Stags FOGOs combined for 177 wins after taking 372 draws for a .476 winning percentage. The opponents had 195 face off wins on the 372 draws with a win percentage of .524.
The Stags scooped up 459 ground balls versus 436 ground balls by the opponents. Fairfield had 199 turnovers in the season while the opposition had 216. Stags’ defense created 110 caused turnovers. Opponents had 104 caused turnovers. Fairfield had 258 successful clears while taking 293 clears for a .881 clear percentage. The opponent completed 222 clears after taking 248 chances for a .895 clear percentage. The Stags has 42 penalties on the season being penalized for 35 minutes. The opposition was called for 46 penalties for 40 minutes of penalty time.
The Stags best scoring period in 2014 was the fourth quarter with 54 goals. Fairfield’s next best period was the second quarter with 47 goals being scored. The opening stanza had the Stags netting 40 goals and 39 goals in the third quarter. Fairfield was in only one OT game this past season and that one big goal accounted for the win over Yale. The Fairfield opponents scored 36 goals in the third quarter and 35 in the second quarter. Opposition attacks netted 33 goals in the first quarter and 31 goals in the fourth quarter. Stags’ attack fired off 147 shots in the fourth quarter and 127 in the second quarter. The third period had Fairfield taking 112 shots and 104 shots in the first quarter. Only needed one shot in the OT period played. Fairfield’s opponents took 155 shots in the fourth quarter and 143 shots in the first period. The second quarter has the opposition taking 134 shots and 123 shots in the third quarter. Two shots were taken in the OT game by Yale.
In 2013, Fairfield had only two players who scored 20 or more goals. This season, the Stags had five players tally over 20 goals and two players who hit the back of the net over 30 times. Leading the Stags in total scoring points was Junior Colin McLinden. He had 22 goals and 29 assists. I would expect next season Colin will the career leader in assists for a Fairfield player. His 2014 scoring totals are even more remarkable as he did not play the Hofstra game under doctor’s orders due to an injury in the Manhattan game. Colin broke his thumb in the Michigan game and played the balance of the season with a cast. Every catch and throw was painful to Colin after the Michigan game. Junior Tristan Sperry ended the season with 45 points. He tallied 24 goals and 21 assists. Sophomore TJ Neubauer and Senior Eric Warden tied for the most goals scored in the 2014 season with 33. TJ added five assists for a 38 point total for the season and Eric had three assist for a 35 point season. I also believe, Eric accounted for seven game winning goals including the OT goal over Yale. Not bad for a “tough Philly kid” (Andy’s description to me of Eric in 2013) who played the end of the season with a sore shoulder left over from a 2013 hit. Freshmen David Fleming and Jake Knostman had great seasons. David was named the Rookie of the Year in the ECAC. He scored 23 goals and seven assists in the 2014 season. Jake’s shots found the back of the net 15 times in his freshman season along with seven assists. David scored a goal in every game in 2014 for the Stags except for the ECAC Final against Air Force. In twelve games, Junior Drew Federico scored 12 goals and had three assists. Drew did not play the final four games of the 2014 season due to broken collarbone suffered in the Air Force game. Drew was really hitting his stride and scoring goals in midseason before the injury. Look for Drew to be a leading goal scorer in the 2015 season. Sophomore Conor Dalton finished the season with 10 points, seven goals and three assists. Senior Alex Cramer concluded his Stags career with four goals and three assists. Sophomore Mikey Gulasey worked on the man up unit and totaled three goals and two assists for five points. Junior Nick Guida and Freshman Nico Panepinto had four points on the season. Nico had four assists in the spring campaign and Nick finished with two goals and two assists. Nick had a tough season with hamstring injuries limiting his play. He came back at the end of the season when other Stags were injured. Junior D Middie Bryan Barry had one goal and two assists for the season and fellow D Middie Senior Shawn Honovich added one goal this season. Both Bryan and Shawn got their goals in a big spot, Bryan in the ECAC Finals game against Air Force and Shawn in the ECAC Semi-Final game against Michigan. Senior Michael Roe got his one goal after a face off win in the ECAC Final game against Air Force.
Senior Jack Murphy had a great senior season. He was The ECAC Goalkeeper of the Year and his save percentage was amongst the best in the country. He started all 16 games and played over 941 minutes. Jack faced 542 shots this season!! He allowed 131 goals for an 8.35 goals against average. Jack had 156 saves in the season and his save percentage was .544. Freshman Tyler Behring had four relief appearances for Jack. Tyler played 20 plus minutes and allowed four goals for an 11.58 goals against average. Tyler had three saves for a .541 save percentage and he faced 15 shots.
FOGOs are an important factor to a team’s success. In Senior Michael Roe’s stellar season in 2012, Fairfield had 12 wins. Last season, Michael was injured most of the season and the Stags had 8 wins. This season, the team of Michael and Junior Louis DiGiacomo improved as the season went along. Not surprisingly, their high level of play as the season progressed helped the seven game winning streak and the 12 win season. Michael won 121 draws out of 246 chances for a .492 winning percentage. Louis (Louie as the crowd says) won 52 of 120 draws for .433 winning percentage. Freshman Jake Kaiser who played in the Manhattan game won four of six face offs for a .667 winning percentage. College lacrosse is trending towards using two FOGOs to keep them fresh and the different styles prevent one team’s FOGO from becoming dominate in a game.
I need to add a section to this post season’s wrap-up. Ground balls win games not matter what level you are playing (Yes I stole that line from Tom Neubauer but it is a lax truism). One stat that does not get a lot of play but in my mind is important is the caused turnover. Three Stags had 14 caused turnovers in the 2014 season. Displaying his athleticism at goalkeeper, Jack Murphy had 14 caused turnovers. Senior Long Pole Defender Toby Armour also had 14 caused turnovers. Sophomore Conor Barr from his D Middie spot with his long pole and playing wing on face offs also had 14 caused turnovers. Senior Long Pole Defender Greg Perraut had 13 caused turnovers. Neubauer who plays both offensive and defense at midfield and spends time on the wing for face offs was credited with 12 caused turnovers. Junior Long Pole Defender Max Buchanan had 9 caused turnovers for the year. Freshman Jay Walsh who played Long Pole D Middie had seven caused turnovers while Honovich had six caused turnovers from his D Middie position. Both McLinden and Sperry from their attack positions had three caused turnovers along with Federico from the midfield. Senior Connor Manniatty, Senior Pete DeSalvo Barry, and Knotsman had two caused turnovers. Warden, Fleming, Senior Geordie Carrick and Freshman Andrew Eidenshink all had one caused turnover. There is a long list of players with ground balls. Roe, as FOGO, lead the team with 61 gbs. Murphy from his goalkeeper spot had 46 gbs. Neubauer on midfield scooped up 45 gbs. Barr had 29 gbs for the season. Both Buchanan and Fleming found 24 gbs. Several players got to 23 gbs. in the 2014 season including McLinden, Barry, DiGiacomo, and Perraut. Armour got to 18 gbs, Federico with 17 gbs while Walsh and Knostman collected 16 gbs. Sperry scooped up 13 gbs and Warden got to 12 gbs. Both Dalton and Cramer were credited with 5 gbs and Carrick had four gbs. DeSalvo had three gbs while Kaiser had two gbs. With one gb for the season were Junior Cameron Parker, Sophomore Kip McMahon, Freshmen Logan Williamson, Christopher Giogio and Panepinto.
Achieving post season honors from the ECAC Lacrosse League were ten Stags. Jack Murphy was the ECAC Goal Keeper of the Year. David Fleming was named the ECAC Rookie of the Year. Named to the All-ECAC First Team on Attack were Colin McLinden and Tristan Sperry. TJ Neubauer was named to The All ECAC First Team Midfield. Eric Warden was named to the All ECAC Second Team for Midfielders and Toby Armour was placed on the All ECAC Second Team for Defense. Named to the ECAC All Rookie Team was David Fleming on attack, Jake Neubauer for midfield and Jay Walsh for defense.
The ECAC Lacrosse League named a Championship All Tournament Teams. Four Fairfield players were named to the Championship All Tournament Team. Michael Roe was named for his face off work along with Colin McLinden, Tristan Sperry and Toby Armour.
Two Fairfield players were selected to the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (NEILA) to the Senior Scholar Academic All Region Team. Senior Co-Captain Greg Perraut was selected for his defensive work. He is an accounting and finance major. Michael Roe was also selected and is a math major. He was one of the ECAC Lacrosse League’s top face off men. To be named to the NEILA Senior Scholar Team you must be a graduating senior who excelled in the classroom and on the playing field. The student-athlete must have a cumulative 3.0 GPA and be nominated for conference or regional recognition.
As the 2014 season ends, we need to say farewell to 10 Seniors who will be graduating. This Senior Class won 40 games in their Fairfield career. I have to believe this is the most of any Senior Class in the Stags Lacrosse Program. Senior Co-Captain Greg Perraut started all 63 games played in his Fairfield career. Greg leaves with a record of the most starts by a player in the Fairfield Lacrosse Program. Senior Co-Captain Jack Murphy transferred to Fairfield from Mass Maritime and walked onto the Stags program. Jack won the starting job in goal in his junior year and started in goal for his final two seasons. He leaves Fairfield as the ECAC Lacrosse League Goalkeeper of the Year. Senior Co-Captain Toby Armour transferred from Johns Hopkins in fall of 2012. Toby started in Defense every game in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The Fairfield Defensive combination of Perraut, Armour and Murphy were keys to the Stags success in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Eric Warden leaves Fairfield with 69 goals in his four year career at midfield. The McLinden to Warden connection in 2014 will be hard to duplicate in the 2015 season. D Middie Shawn Honovich ends the Honovich era at Fairfield. Shawn’s older brother Billy played four seasons at Fairfield. Stags will miss the Honovich connection at midfield after eight seasons and Shawn’s speed on the field. Georgie Carrick played at LSM for the Stags and contributed strong minutes the last two seasons for the Stags. Alex Cramer played attack for the Stags. He had a calming influence on attack for the past four years and produced key goals for Fairfield. Gary Davies who came to Fairfield from Upstate New York played valuable minutes on Defense especially in his first two years at Fairfield. Pete DeSalvo played D Middie in his four seasons. The last two seasons, Pete played many minutes for the Stags defense and was a force on the field. Connor Maniatty walked onto the Stags team in his freshman year. As Coach Copelan commented at the Senior Dinner, walking onto a Division 1 program is very hard to do. Connor played key minutes for the Stags on the wing for face offs and at D Middie in his Senior Year. Michael Roe transferred from Drexel in the fall of 2011. His impact at the FOGO spot was immediate in the 2012 Spring Campaign. He had a stellar sophomore season and was amongst the national leaders in face off win percentage in the 2012 season. Injuries slowed his junior season and the start of his senior season. He ended his Fairfield career in very strong form from mid to late season in 2014. He won Specialist of the Week for the ECAC Lacrosse League several times this season and was named to the ECAC Championship All Tournament Team. He leaves Fairfield on the all time list as second in face off wins with 417, face off attempts at 771 and winning percentage at .541. Thank you to all the 2014 Seniors for your tremendous contributions to the Fairfield Lacrosse Program. This Senior Class leaves the Fairfield Lacrosse Program in great shape and at a higher level than when they entered Fairfield in the fall of 2010.
It seems like it takes forever for the season to start with Fall Ball, the holiday season, and the month of January. But once the season starts, it flies bye. However, the season ends too suddenly. The Fairfield Lacrosse program is in the great hands of Coach Andy Copelan. Every year under his guidance, the program is getting stronger and reaching new heights. This season started with an unexpected turn before the first game and the 2-2 start. The team responded to the challenges of the season under Andy’s tutelage. There is one last door to be kicked in the 2015 season. Yes, I am already looking forward to the 2015 season!! Rafferty Stadium and the new league, Colonial Athletic Conference, and a new set of opponents. The 2015 freshman class is “loaded” per Coach Copelan. The offensive firepower that returns in the 2015 is both impressive and exciting. The two biggest challenges for the 2015 season will be the rebuilding of the defensive unit and playing in a new conference, the CAA.
Hope everyone has a great and safe summer. I trust you enjoyed the pre and post game reports. Any comments, pros or cons plus suggestions are greatly appreciated. I will post updates to the program as they occur in the next few months. Looking forward to Fall Ball in September!! Roger Yergeau ‘73

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