Stags Edged by Richmond, 11-10, in 2016 Opener

Schnider, Burke net hat tricks on Opening Day at Rafferty Stadium

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Fairfield University men’s lacrosse team opened its 2016 campaign with an 11-10 loss to visiting Richmond on Monday morning on Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium. The contest was a matchup between the defending regular season champions of their respective conferences – the Stags of the CAA and the Spiders of the SoCon.

“Honestly, all that today’s loss means is that we’re not going undefeated this year,” said Head Coach Andy Copelan. “It’s never how you start a season, it’s how you finish.”

Copelan’s Stags were edged by Holy Cross, 10-9, to open the 2015 season and went on to win the CAA regular season crown. Dating back to the 2014 campaign, Fairfield’s last eight losses have been decided by one goal.

In today’s action, Charlie Schnider led the Stags (0-1) on the offensive end with three goals and two assists. Colin Burke also recorded a hat trick and picked up an assist in his collegiate debut. Jake Knostman, Joe Rodrigues, TJ Neubauer and Conor Dalton added goals for the hosts, and Drew Murray joined the scoring column with an assist.

Tyler Behring made 15 saves in goal for the Stags.

After Fairfield grabbed a 2-1 lead on goals from Schnider and Burke (man-up), Richmond put together the stretch that ultimately decided the game. The Spiders ran off the next five goals, keeping the Stags off the board for a span of 17:28 to build a 6-2 advantage. Dalton converted a man-up chance in the final minute to send the Stags into the locker room with momentum, though trailing Richmond by a 6-3 count.

The Spiders controlled the action in the first half, winning 9-of-11 faceoffs. That mark, guided by Peter Moran at the ‘X’, also propelled that hosts to a 17-4 advantage in ground balls.

The Stags improved in both categories after the intermission, corralling 14 ground balls to Richmond’s 11 in the second half and nearly splitting the draws – Richmond won seven with the Stags coming away with five.

“There’s no quit in that locker room. The guys came out in the second half and fought tooth and nail,” said Copelan, the reigning CAA Coach of the Year. “We won the ground ball battle in the second half, which obviously was one of our shortcomings in the first half.”

The Stags’ offense also found its stride in the second half, with Neubauer, Schnider and Burke each netting a third-period goal. However, the Spiders answered each marker with one of their own within the next two minutes. The parity was enough to keep Richmond in front, 9-6, entering the final 15 minutes of play.

Charlie Schnider completed his hat trick with a man-up goal – assisted by Burke – to start the scoring in the fourth quarter. Burke rounded out his hat trick with 9:48 to go, pulling Fairfield to within one goal at 9-8. Richmond would tack one on at 7:42, but this time Rodrigues had the answer with a mark just 17 seconds later.

The Spiders’ final tally was insurance goal that proved to be the difference. Mitch Goldberg buried his fifth goal of the day at 6:08 to extend the margin to 11-9. Knostman provided the answer for Fairfield at 4:59, but neither team would score again as the 11-10 tally held up as a final.

The Stags were outshot, 43-28. Fairfield went 4-for-5 on extra-man opportunities compared to a 1-for-5 power play clip by Richmond.

In the transition game, Fairfield posted a 16-for-19 mark on clears, while the Spiders successfully cleared 12-of-13 tries.

Goldberg led the Richmond offense with five goals and an assist. Benny Pugh went the distance between the posts and made six saves.

The Stags continue their home slate this Saturday, Feb. 20 for a visit from Bucknell. Faceoff on Conway Field is slated for noon. The Bison are 2-0 on the young season with a 13-5 home win over Delaware last Saturday, Feb. 6 and an 11-10 victory over Bryant on Sunday, Feb. 14 in a contest played indoors in Taunton, Mass. due to inclement weather.

“We’ve got the pieces right now, but we’re still trying to put things together,” Copelan added. “But I believe in that group of guys. I wish we could be 1-0, but we’ll move on.”