Fairfield versus Bryant University Pregame Report

To the Founders and Friends of Fairfield Lacrosse-After digging out of almost 3 feet of snow on the Fairfield Campus, the Stags Lacrosse team will open on the road against Bryant University Bulldogs in Smithfield, RI on Saturday February 16th at 1 PM.  The game will be on Live Stats-without a charge- so you can follow the game on line.  Here is the link to Live Stats- http://livestats.prestosports.com/bryant/

Bryant University is coached by Mike Pressler who is the former Duke coach.  The Bulldogs opened the season last Sunday against #10 ranked Colgate on Sunday afternoon behinds mounds of snow ringing the Bryant Turf Complex and cold temperatures.  Colgate won the game in OT with a goal midway in the period to beat Bryant by a 14-13 score.

Bryant is the NEC champions and was undefeated at home last year coming off a 14-4 record.  Colgate is lead by Peter Baum, the National Player of the Year and the NCAA leading goal scorer.  The Bulldogs held Baum to 2 goals and 2 assists but could not stop Matt Clarkson who tallied 5 goals.  Bryant was lead by Alex Zomerfeld who had three goals.

Colgate opened the game with a goal by Clarkson 90 seconds into the game before Bryant scored the next three goals with Zomerfeld getting two of the three Bryant goals.  Colgate and Bryant traded the next three goals and Bryant ended the first period with a 4 -3 score. Colgate opened the second period with two goals to grab a 5-4 lead.  Bryant responded with three straight tallies to regain the lead by a 7-5 margin.  Colgate’s Clarkson ended the Bulldogs run for a 7-6 score.  Bryant and Colgate traded goals to end the second period with Peter Baum getting his first goal of the year with 39 seconds left in the half to close the Bryant lead to 8-7.

The second half started with the Red Raiders on a three goal run to lead the game by a 10-8 score.  Bryant finally scored with 52 seconds left in the third period for a 10-9 score.  Colgate opened the fourth period for a score with 2 minutes off the clock for a 11-9 score.  Bryant next scored the only man up goal of the game with 7:08 left in the game to make the score 11-10.  Four seconds later, the Bulldogs tied the game at 11-11.  Colgate’s Clarkson got his fourth and fifth goals of the game to post a 13-11 lead with 4:15 left in the game.  Bryant’s Zomerfeld cut the lead to 13-12 with 3 minutes showing on the clock.  Bryant ties the game with only 8 seconds left in the game to force an OT period.

Bryant wins the OT faceoff and took a shot at close range but the Colgate goalkeeper makes a huge save and the Colgate’s D scooped up the rebound ground ball and started a fast break.  The breaking midfield found that his attackman Jimmy Ryan had a seam, made the pass and Ryan was able to step in and stick the ball in the net for a 14-13 game winner.

Colgate lead the game with 59 shots versus Bryant only taking 37 shots.  The Bulldogs won the ground ball war by  a 33 to 31 margin and Bryant had 21 turnovers versus Colgate’s 14 turnovers.  Bryant won the faceoff battle by taking 20 of the 31 faceoffs.  The Bulldogs scored the only man up goal of the game in five chances and Colgate was 0 for 1 in the one man up opprotunity chance of the game.  Bryant used two goal keepers with Gunnar Waldt making 13 saves while allowing 14 goals in 57:36 minutes of playing time.  Tom Carey played for 4:15 minutes and recorded one save while allowing no goals.

Normally at this point of the pregame report I would review the Stags last game and season stats.  Since the Stags did not play, let me review some of the preseason report.

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.

Who will have the advantage in this game?  Bryant has played one tough game ending in a brutal loss.  The Stags are rested and ready to bust loose.  Last year the Stags needed an OT period to beat the Bulldogs.  The Stags are the second nationally ranked team they are playing in the first two weeks of the season.  Mike Pressler’s teams are well coached and are a tough group of players and want to enhance their reputation by beating a nationally ranked team.  I again feel strongly that the Stags will score and but the young defense and new goalkeeping team will be tested.  I will be watching the game on line and will report the final results as soon as possible.  Roger Yergeau ’73


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