To the Founders and Friends of Fairfield Lacrosse- On a beautiful pre spring day of 50 plus degrees and sunny skies at Reese Stadium with lots of snow piles around the field after the Friday snow storm, Reese Stadium is a lacrosse and soccer only field, on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, CT, the #19/#17 Fairfield Stags lost to the #20 Yale Bulldogs by a 12 to 8 score. Yale came back from a 4-1 and 5-3 deficit to beat the Stags. Fairfield has never beaten Yale in seven games between the two schools since the series started in 1996.
No surprises in the starting lineup for the Stags against Yale as D Long Pole Toby Armour was a starter making a recovery from last Saturday’s last minute ankle injury against UMBC. The game started with Michael Roe taking the starting face off against the Bulldogs’ Dylan Levings. Levings wins the face off, picks up the ground ball and passes to Harry Kucharczyk who shoots right away. Fairfield’s Jack Murphy makes the save and the first clear of the day for Fairfield is successful. The Fairfield offense starts its initial attack but commits a turnover and the Elis clear the ball. Frosh TJ Neubauer draws a flag for interference with 13:13 showing on the clock for a 30 second penalty. Yale man up unit hits a post and retains the ball and Fairfield kills the penalty. Yale takes another shot at the 11:59 mark and the Stags’s Murphy makes the save and starts a good clear. The Stags take two shots and Yale’s goal keeper Eric Natale makes the save on the second shot and the clear is good. However, Yale is offsides on the clear but none of the officials catch the transgression and when the ball goes out of bounds, the Yale coach calls for a time out to prevent the flag down with 10:21 left in the period. Fairfield is awarded the out of bound ball and on the restart gets the ball in the offensive zone and starts its offense. Co-Captain Marshall Johnson takes an unassisted shot with 9:01 in the period and beats Yale’s Natale for a 1-0 Stags lead. On the play, Yale’s Kucharczyk is called for a cross checking penalty. So with the man advantage, the Stags’ Roe takes the face off and Yale’s Levings wins the battle. However the Stag’s Armour causes Yale to turn the ball over to start the Stags’ extra man advantage with 45 seconds remaining on the penalty clock. Coach Copelan calls for a time out to give the EMO unit a play with 8:42 showing on the clock. Yale’s Natale stops a Jordan Greenfield shot and starts an unsuccessful clear. Stags pick up a loose ground ball and restarts its offense. Super Frosh Neubauer takes a rocket shot after receiving a beautiful pass from Eric Warden and TJ hits the back of the net to put the Stags up by a 2-0 margin seven minutes remaining in the first period. Warden is credited with the assist. Yale’s Levings beats Roe again in the face off circle but Yale makes a quick turnover. The teams trade shots and turnovers for the next three minutes. Yale takes a shot with 3:55 left in the period and Murphy makes the save but can not hold the ball and Yale’s Kirby Zdrill takes the ball out of the air and fires it past Murphy to cut the Stags’s lead to 2-1 with 3:46 on the clock. Great save but unfortunate result. Yale’s Levings once again wins the face off and picks up the ground ball but Yale commits a turnover. The Stags offense takes over but the officials think the Stags are not going to the cage and call a 30 second shot warning with 2:20 left in the period. Stags make a turnover and Yale clears and takes a quick shot that Murphy saves and starts the clear. Fairfield’s offense moves the ball around the wheel trying to find an opening in the Bulldogs’s defense. Sophomore Tristian Sperry scores off an assist from fellow classmate Nick Guida for a 3-1 Stags lead with 1:08 remaining in the period. Fairfield’s Lou DiGiacomo comes on the field to take the face off but Yale’s Levings once again wins at the face off X. Yale works the ball around trying for a last minute goal but the Stags defense of Armour, Greg Perraut and Thomas Lukacovic are up to the task only allowing a weak shot with 5 seconds remaining that Murphy saves and holds the ball to end the period with Fairfield taking a 3-1 lead at the break.
The Stags’ DiGiacomo takes the face off against Yale’s Levings to start the second quarter. In a wild scramble for the bouncing ball that is touched by several players on both teams, DiGiacomo gets the possession for fraction of a second and Coach Copelan calls his second timeout of the half at 14:43 on the clock. Copelan sets up his offense and the Stags’ Super Soph Colin McLinden responds scoring unassisted with 14:25 left in the period for a 4-1 Stags lead. Yale’s Levings once again beats DiGiacomo on the face off but Yale commits a turnover. However, the Stags are unable to complete the clear and the Bulldogs’ Zdrill gets his second goal of the game with an assist from Brandon Managan to cut the Stags lead in half by a 4-2 margin with 11:56 on the second period clock. Once again, Levings beats DiGiacomo at the X and Yale sets up it offense. At 10:33, Yale’s Zdrill gets loose and scores his third goal of the game to make it a 4-3 game with 10:33 on the clock. On the goal there is a flag down but the techincal holding call on Fairfield’s Armour is wipped out by the goal. Freshman Pierce Hyldahl gets his first action the season taking the face off. The Bulldogs’ Levings is called for a violation and the Stags win its first face off of the day. Yale’s Kucharczyk gets his second flag of the afternoon for a one minute cross checking penalty. The Fairfield extra man unit goes to work and Co-Captain Sam Snow hits quickly for a man up goal with an assist from Junior Jordan Greenfield for a 5-3 Stags lead and 10:07 left in the period. Stags’ Hyldahl is at the face off X but Yale’s Levings gets another win and sets up the Bulldogs offense. At 9:03, Yale’s Conrad Oberbeck scores with an assist from Mangan to make it a 5-4 game. Once again the Bulldog’s Levings beats Hyldahl at the X. The Yale coach does not like what he sees with his offense and calls his second timeout of the first half at 8:22. The Elis offense runs it sets and Colin Flaherty scores unassisted with 7:47 remaining in the first half to tie the score at 5-5. DiGiacomo is back at the face off X and Yales’ Levings is called for his second violation of the first half. For the next couple of minutes the teams trade shots and turnovers. Fairfield’s Freshman Conor Dalton, Neubauer’s high school teammate, sees his first significant action of the season and Dalton takes shot that goes wide. Yale creates a turnover and sets up its offense. The Elis take a couple of shots including a save by Murphy but Yale retains the ball. At the 5:07 mark of the period, Stags’ Sophomore D Long Pole Lukacovic is called for a 60 second slashing penalty. Yale takes three extra man unit shots that go wide but Yale gets a loose ground ball and scores a goal by Oberbeck with an assist from Shane Thorton for a 6-5 Yale lead with 4:06 left in the period. The Bulldogs miss getting an extra man goal by one second. DiGiacomo taking the face off beats Levings with the Stags’ Brian Berry picking up the ground ball. The teams play the final four minutes with both teams unable to score and the period ends with Yale in the lead 6-5 at halftime with the Elis on a three goal run.
The third period starts with another face off win by Levings over DiGiacomo. Yale goes into its offensive set and works the ball around with the Stags playing strong defense. After about a minute, the Bulldogs take a wide shot but retain the ball. They commit a turnover at 13:38 and Senior D middie Gordie Wells picks up the ground ball and starts the Stags attack. A quick shot by Greenfield is stopped by Yale’s Natale who starts the Elis clear. Yale’s Michael McCormack a long pole defender takes the ball down the field after receiving an outlet pass from Conrad Oberbeck. McCormack scores and Oberbeck gets credited with an assist to push the Yale lead to 7-5 with 12:39 on the clock for the third period. Yale’s Levings wins the face off because the Stags’s DiGiacomo is called for a violation. Over the couple of minutes Yale receives a 30 second shot warning and takes a shot. At 10:05, Yale receives a 30 second penalty for having too many men on the field. With the EMO unit on the field, Greenfield takes a shot that Yale’s Natale saves but the Stags get the rebound only to commit a turnover. Yale moves the ball downfield quickly and Alexander Otero hits the back of the net with an assist from Kucharcyk to cap a Yale five goal run over two periods for a 8-5 Bulldogs lead with 9:07 remaining in the third period. On the goal, Fairfield’s Neubauer gets assessed for a one minute cross checking penalty. Coach Copelan turns to Marshall Johnson to take the face off but Levenings once again wins at the X. With a three goal lead, Yale is in no rush to take a shot. The Bulldogs after a minute take a shot but Murphy creates a turnover and starts the clear. Now the Stags offense goes into hyper drive. Fairfield takes three shots in a 90 second span-one is wide, one is blocked and Yale’s Natale makes a save on the third shot. On the shot at 6:23, Yale’s Jimmy Craft is called for a one minute slashing penalty. The extra man unit wastes no time and Snow scores unassisted on a bullet shot at 5:59 to finally get the Stags back on the board again and cuts the Yale lead to 8-6. Don’t want to sound like a broken record but the Elis Levings now beats DiGiacomo on the face off. Soph Bryan Barry creates a turnover and gets the ground ball with 4:53 remaining in the third period. The Stags give the ball back to Yale but Fairfield’s Murphy comes out of the nets to get a ground ball and starts a successful clear. The Fairfield offense understands it needs to ramp up its game. In the next 70 seconds of play, a Stags shot is saved by the Bulldogs’ Natale but Fairfield’s Sperry gets the rebound ground ball and keeps the Stags offense alive. Fairfield’s Greenfield shot gets blocked but Yale gets another one minute illegal body check foul again on Craft. The man up unit is on fire and two wide shots are taken but the Stags back up the shots. Sophomore Nick Guida dodges the Yale defense and scores a man up goal unassisted with 1:55 left in the third period. Back to a one goal game with Yale leading 8-7. Levings once again wins the face off against DiGiacomo but the Stags’ Junior Defender Perraut causes Yale to turn the ball over. Murphy starts the clear and while Junior Eric Warden is picking up a loose ball he is pushed from behind by the Bulldogs’ Kucharczyk for a thirty second techincal foul with 53 seconds remaining in the period. Super Frosh Neubauer takes a EMO shot wide that is wide with the penalty clock expiring but he is now slashed by Michael Lipin with 22 seconds remaining in the period. Now Fairfield has a one minute extra man advantage. Fairfield holds the ball for the remaining 22 seconds of the third period so it will by rule start the fourth quarter with the ball in the offensive zone. Yale leads by an 8-7 score at the end of three quarters.
Fairfield starts the fourth period with the ball outside the box in the offensive zone. Snow takes a shot after 6 seconds but Natale makes a critical save. Sperry gets the rebound but Yale gets a turnover 20 seconds later. After a failed clear, Yale get ball back and restarts its clear. Yale takes one quick shot but on the back up they play slow ball to kill the clock. At 12:55 left in the game, Yale’s Flaherty gets an unassisted goal to make it a two goal lead for a 9-7 score. On the face off DiGiacomo beats Levenings with the Stags’ Barry getting to the loose ball and gets it into the Fairfield offensive zone. Super Soph McLinden passes it to Snow who puts it home for a 9-8 Yale lead with 12:15 remaining in the game. Levings once again beats DiGiacomo on the face off and Yale takes it time on offense. A Bulldogs shoot a wide shot but on the back up Yale’s Shane Thorton feeds Zdrill for his 4th goal of the day for a 10-8 Yale lead with 11:20 showing on the clock. Levings again beats DiGiacomo in the face off circle but DiGiacomo causes Levings to turn the ball over. Fairfield’s McLinden takes a wide shot and Coach Copelan uses his first timeout of the second half. On the restart after the time out, Fairfield patient offensive unit looks for a seam in the Yale defense. With 8:51 on the clock, Yale’s Craft gets another one minute slashing penalty for a one minute penalty. The Stags’ extra man unit gets another chance to tighten the game but only get off one shot with 8:50 showing on the clock and the Elis’ Natale makes the save and starts the clear. Yale’s offense with a two goal lead is content to work the ball around the wheel. The Stags’ Murphy makes one save but Yale continues to hold the ball. Stag’s Lukacovic gets a flag for slashing for one minute with 6:25 on the clock. Twenty two seconds later, the Yale’s extra man unit scores with Managan getting the man up goal with an assist from Ryan McCarthy for a 11-8 Bulldogs lead. This time DiGiacomo beats Levings in the face off circle and the Stags’ Barry gets to the loose ball. Fairfield’s Sperry takes a wide shot but the Stags retain the ball with 5:50 left in the game. The Stags offense can not get shot off and at 5:05 another penalty is called on Yale. This time Peter Johnson for Yale is called for a 30 second holding penalty. Greenfield gets an extra man shot but Natale saves but the the Stags pounce on the clear attempt and get the ball back. Snow takes a wide shot with 3;23 left in the game and the Stags get to the loose ball. With 2:51 left in the game, Sophomore Drew Federico takes a shot that is saved by Natale. Yale calls timeout with 2:36 on the clock. On the restart after the timeout, Yale’s clear is taken away by the Stags. Snow takes another wide shot and after a Stags turnover, the Bulldogs clear. With the clock ticking away, the entire defense is all over the Bulldogs attackers and Yale’s Managan gets an empty net goal unassisted with 1:43 left in the game giving Yale a 12-8 lead. On the face off DiGiacomo commits a face off violation. In the remaining 103 seconds, Yale takes one shot which Murphy saves and the clock winds down to zero.
In the end, both teams took 32 shots. Fairfield’s Murphy was credited with 9 saves and the Bulldogs’ Natale had 12 saves. Yale won the ground ball battle by a 40-26 margin. Fairfield had 13 turnovers while Yale committed 15 turnovers. Yale won 17 of the 23 face offs taken during the game with Levings beating four Stags face off men. The Stags were successful on 14 of 17 clears while Yale cleared 10 of 16 times with success. Fairfield hit for three extra man goals out of nine attempts and the Bulldogs got one extra man goal out of four attempts (although they did score one goal one tick after the man up clock finished).
Stars of the game: Sam Snow scored three goals, two of which were man up goals. Tristian Sperry got one goal and four ground balls. Hard working Bryan Barry got four ground balls and one caused turnover. Jack Murphy had 7 ground balls to go with his 9 saves. The stars for Yale were Dylan Levings who won 17 of the 23 face offs and got credited with 13 ground balls. Kirby Zdrill had four goals and three ground balls. Despite his three penalties, Jimmy Craft got to four ground balls and Ryan McCarthy was credited with 4 ground balls. Goal keeper Eric Natale had 12 saves on the day.
Seen in the Stands-Attending the game was Coach Will Mraz who’s daughter did not have a game today. Steve Hinchey ’73 made the trip from Glastonbury, CT as he was not officiating a college lacrosse game today. Trustee Brian Hull was at the game coming from LI with Paul Huston ’82. Paul was Chairman of the Board of Trustees for 10 years and is still on the Board. He is a major supporter of the Stags Lacrosse program.
The Stags open the ECAC League play on Thursday night at 7 PM. University of Michigan, a new comer to the ECAC Lacrosse League, and in its second Division 1 season, plays the Stags in the first ever meeting between the teams. Michigan was a Club Lacrosse powerhouse and made the leap to Division 1 play in 2012. Roger Yergeau ’73