COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 14/15 Fairfield University men’s lacrosse team had their postseason hopes dashed as third-seeded Air Force upset the Stags, 9-8, in the ECAC Lacrosse League Championship final at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Stags, who tied the program record for wins, finish the year with a 12-4 overall record.
Juniors Colin McLinden (Madison, N.J.) and Tristan Sperry (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) had three-point days, each finishing with two goals and an assist. Senior Eric Warden (Glen Mills, Pa.) had a pair of goals in his final game as a Stag.
Keith Dreyer scored just 1:10 into the game with a top shelf tally. The Stags answered nine seconds later as Fairfield won the faceoff and junior Bryan Barry (Duxbury, Mass.) shoveled a ball to tie the game with his first goal of the year.
Mike Crampton put Air Force on top, 2-1, at 6:42 tucking in a shot into the top corner from the short side. Air Force pushed its lead to 4-1 on goals by Kyle Cassady and Dreyer which came in a two-minute span. Fairfield answered seven seconds after Dreyer’s goal. Senior Michael Roe (Lutherville, Md.) won the faceoff, scooped up the ground ball, and netted a back-of-the-stick bouncer to pull the Stags within 4-2. It was the first point of the year for Roe.
Just 47 seconds into the second quarter, McLinden set up Warden for his 32nd goal of the year to cut the deficit to 4-3. Erik Smith scored at 8:29 to push the Air Force lead back to two goals. With just under seven minutes remaining, Sperry fought through the defense, spun off a long stick, and found a wide open McLinden for an easy goal to make it 5-4. Sperry then tied it up 5-5 with 57.6 seconds remaining in the half. The score would remain knotted at 5-5 at halftime.
Air Force (10-5) scored three unanswered goals over the first 13 minutes of the third quarter. The Falcons regained the lead at 13:37 on a blast by Christopher Allen. Austin Smith followed at 9:17 while Allen struck once more at 6:57. Air Force would take the 8-5 lead into the fourth quarter.
After being held scoreless in the third quarter, Warden put the Stags on the board at 10:23 in the fourth quarter with a man-up goal on an overhand bouncer, pulling Fairfield within 8-6. Dreyer returned the lead to three goals at 8:31 but Sperry rolled through a double team and stuffed in his second goal of the game at 7:08 to cut it to 9-7.
McLinden made it a one goal game, 9-8, at 5:25, driving to the cage and putting a shot in as he fell to the ground. The Stags had their chances late but Air Force thwarted Fairfield comeback to win the 2014 ECAC Lacrosse League Championship.
Roe went 11-for-19 from the faceoff X and had seven ground balls. Senior Jack Murphy (Cohasset, Mass.) made seven saves for the Stags.