It is hard to believe that the 2013 Fairfield Men’s Lacrosse Season will start its campaign on Saturday February 9th at 12 noon. The Stags will be on the road and play Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, NY. Coach Andy Copelan notes that they are winners of the America East Conference in 2012 and were participants of the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament. The Stags come into the season ranked # 16 in both the USILA Division 1 Coaches Poll and the Nike Division 1 Poll. Both Senior Team Captains, Sam Snow and Marshall Johnson have been drafted by the MLL Collegiate Draft in January. Sam was drafted by Denver and Marshall was drafted by Rochester. They follow Brent Adams 2012, Drew Palmer 2012 and Charlie Ciprino 2012 who were drafted by the MLL in 2012.
The Stags return 9 of their top 11 point scorers from the 2012 season giving the Fairfield Laxmen plenty of scoring punch. Leading the team will be Captain Sam Snow who had 38 goals and 8 assists in the 2012 season. I have to check my records, but I think Sam had 6 goal winning scores in 2012. Top scorers returning include Sophomore Colin McLinden, who I dubbed the Super Frosh in 2012, with 8 goals and 19 assists in 2012, Junior Eric Warden, Sophomores Drew Federico and Tristian Sperry, Juniors Jordan Greenfield and Alex Cramer.
The starting attack should be Tristian Sperry, who is a dodger, passer Nick Guida and lefty Jordan Greenfield. Top replacements will be Junior Alex Cramer and Freshman Paul Heller from the top flight Duxbury HS, Massachusetts lacrosse program. Tristian originally came to Fairfield as a midfielder and Coach Copelan has switched him to attack in 2013. Coach Copelan sees this an opportunity for Tristian as Andy wants offensive minded midfielders on the field. Inside Lacrosse Magazine dubbed Nick Guida as the sleeper pick of the team. Nick’s older brother Rob plays for John Hopkins and Guida is also making the transition from midfield to attack.
The top midfielders are Sam Snow, Eric Warden, Drew Federico, Colin McLinden, Marshall Johnson, Junior Shawn Honovich and two Freshmen from Loyola Blakefield, Maryland high powered lacrosse program TJ Neubauer and Conner Dalton. Playing with a high school teammate will help both TJ’s and Conner’s transition to D1 Lacrosse. Both Marshall and Shawn will have various roles on the team with an emphasis on defensive transition midfielders. Marshall is a great ground baller scooper and Shawn has tremendous speed. In 2012 only Brent Adams had better speed that Shawn on the Stags Lacrosse team. Federico was an attackman in 2012 and he also is making the transition to a new position at midfield like Sam Snow made as a sophomore. Sam came to Fairfield as an attackman but Coach Copelan thought he was was so good in front of the cage and more valuable to the team than being behind the cage. Andy also wants Sam on the field as much as possible playing a hybrid style of mid and attack like Colgate did with Peter Baum in 2012.
The defense will have a new look with the graduation of Drew Palmer and Brendan McTeague. John Hopkins transfer Toby Armour will be on the defense making the switch from Long Stick Midfielder to close defense for the Stags. Junior Greg Perrault who has started on defense as a freshman will be a third year starter. Sophomores Max Buchanan and Thomas Lukacovic will get plenty of playing time along with Seniors Gordie Wells, Dan Niebler, Junior Gordie Carrick, and Sophomore Max Buchanan.
Face Offs-Last season Junior Michael Roe was one of leading faceoff men in the nation and a major cog in getting the Stags offense off to a fast start. Joining Michael in the faceoff circle will be Marshall Johnson and Sophomore Lou DiGiacomo.
Goal Keeper-This will be a new look with the 2 time ECAC Goal Keeper of the Year Charlie Ciprano graduating in May, 2012. Battling for the goal keeper spot are Freshman Tom Branca, Sophomore Conner Fraylick and Junior transfer from Mass Maritime Jack Murphy. Coach Copelan will be looking very closely at both Murphy and Fraylick in the first couple of games to determine the starter in this key slot.
Top Freshmen- Conner Dalton , TJ Neubauer and Paul Heller are the top frosh players based on Fall Ball and the Spring Season pre season training camp. Once his broken toe is healed, Coach Copelan anticipates that Pierce Hyldahl will be a contributor to the team.
The Schedule-The Stags as noted earlier will open on the road with Stony Brook. Coach Copelan remarked that the Sea Wolves who qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2012 will be “handful” and bring in 2 Canadian sharp shooters and start a new goalkeeper. A complete pre game report will be published hopefully on Thursday. On February 16th, Fairfield continues their road trip with a game against Bryant University who the Stags beat in OT in 2012. The home opener on February 19th will be against Navy, new to the Stags schedule. Coach Copelan expects this to a physical contest as this is the style of play for the military academies. The laxmen then travel to Chapel Hill to play North Carolina who is ranked #4 and #7 in the preseason rankings and played in the NCAA Tournament. Two teams that played Fairfield to multiple overtimes in 2012 come to Memorial Field. The games will be against Hofestra and UMBC. In state rival and NCAA qualifier in 2012, Yale is the next road opponent for the Stags.
Fairfield plays in the ultra competitive ECAC Lacrosse League and the case can be made that that the ECAC is the toughest lacrosse league in the nation. Joining the ECAC this season is Michigan, who are in their second D1 season after being one of the most successful club team programs in the nation. The Wolverines come to Fairfield to open the ECAC season on March 14 in a 7 PM contest. Playing next on the Fairfield campus will be Quinnipiac. The Quinnipiac team from Hamden, CT always plays the Stags tough. Fairfield then travels to upstate NY to play Hobart in a ECAC game. Next on the ECAC schedule at home will be Bellarmine. On April 6th, Fairfield travels to Maryland to play ECAC and NCAA Champion Loyola. Loyola is the nation’s preseason ranked # 1 team in both the major polls. Air Force, a fellow ECAC league school, will come to Fairfield for the final home game on April 13th at 2 PM. Finishing up the 2013 campaign and the ECAC schedule on the road will be games against # 6 preseason ranked and NCAA qualifer Denver and the season ends on April 27th in Columbus, Ohio against the Buckeyes of Ohio State. Two years ago Fairfield and Ohio State played in the big stadium before the annual Ohio State Spring Season game and on the Big 10 Network. The Buckeyes lost to the Stags last season in the ECAC League Tournament Semi Finals after beating the Stags in Fairfield the previous week. I expect the Stags will finish in the top 4 of the ECAC and qualify for the third straight year. The ECAC Tournament this season will be played in Geneva, NY on the campus of Hobart.
It will be tough to beat the 7-0 start the Stags had in 2012 and the 12-4 record. The Stags schedule is doted with several NCAA 2012 qualifiers and being ranked nationally teams will want to knock off the Stags. The Stags have the offensive firepower and a tough young team. The young defense and the new goal keeper will need to jell quickly for a successful season. Watch for the pre game and post game reports. Go Stags!!! Roger Yergeau ’73