Stags Surge Past Hofstra in CAA Championship Semifinals

Burke piles up seven points in the postseason win

TOWSON, Md. – Led by seven points from Colin Burke and a hat trick by TJ Neubauer, the Fairfield University men’s lacrosse team defeated Hofstra, 11-8, on Thursday evening in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship Semifinals. The Stags will play host and top seed Towson on Saturday, May 7 in the 2016 CAA Championship Game.

Fairfield (9-7) is the second-seeded team in the CAA after earning a share of its third consecutive regular season title. Third-seeded Hofstra sees its season end with a record of 9-6. The Stags won the regular season meeting against the Pride, 9-8, on Long Island on April 2.

Burke matched his career high with seven points, fueled by a career-high tying five goals as well as two assists. The CAA co-Player and Rookie of the Year also netted seven points when the Stags played at Johnny Unitas Stadium in the regular season on April 23 against Towson. His 46 goals rank second on Fairfield’s single-season ledger – two behind the 48 tallies amassed by Spencer Steele ’00 in 1999 – and his 62 points are sixth on the single-season list.

With his hat trick, Neubauer ran his career total to 109 goals to claim sole possession of third place on Fairfield’s all-time list. He also cracked the program’s all-time top 10 with 122 career points.

The Stags also got goals from Charlie Horning, Jake Knostman and the first career tally for Joe Guidarelli.

Charlie Schnider handed out three assists, improving his CAA-leading total to 32 helpers this spring. He is one shy of the Fairfield single-season record. Drew Murray rounded out the scoring with one assist.

At the faceoff ‘X’, Will Fox won six draws and Joe DeLasho came away with three on the Stags’ 22 attempts. Each faceoff man scooped up two ground balls, with Joe Guidarelli securing three in the midfield.

First Team All-CAA goalkeeper Tyler Behring made 14 stops in the contest to go along with four ground balls. The defense in front of him was led by three ground balls and a caused turnover for Matt Borda.

Hofstra was led a goal and three assists from Sam Llinares. Korey Hendrickson added two goals and a helper. Jack Concannon made six saves in the cage for the Pride.

The Stags got off to a quick start, as Burke rifled home an unassisted goal just 43 seconds into the contest. Behring made two saves as a part of the ensuing defensive stand, keeping the lead at 1-0 until Neubauer and Horning each rattled the cage to make it a 3-0 advantage. Korey Hendrickson spoiled the scoreless quarter with a tally at the 3:02 mark, but the Stags maintained a 3-1 edge after the opening 15 minutes.

Another quick strike helped Fairfield extend its lead in the second quarter as Fox won the opening draw and Neubauer converted a pass from Schnider for the second time at 14:05 in the frame to make it a 4-1 contest. At that point, Hofstra scored back-to-back goals for the first time. Brian von Bargen capitalized on an extra-man opportunity, and Hendrickson followed with his second of the evening to cut the Fairfield lead to 4-3 with 9:50 left in the opening half.

After a timeout, the Stags swung the momentum back in their favor just nine seconds later. Guidarelli came away with the ground ball off of the faceoff and went coast-to-coast to net his first career goal. Hofstra capped the first half scoring with a Dylan Alderman goal, as Fairfield carried a 5-4 lead into the intermission.

Hofstra earned an extra-man opportunity on the opening faceoff of the second half and quickly knotted the game at 5-5 with a von Bargen goal with 14:27 to go in the third quarter. However, the Stags would respond in kind with their first man-up goal of the day. The marker came from the stick of Burke, who took a pass down low and faked out Concannon to stuff home the go-ahead tally.

Burke was far from finished in the third quarter, scoring again at 10:53 and 9:16 in the frame to extend Fairfield’s lead to 8-5. After scoring just 33 seconds into the third quarter, Hofstra rattled the cage with only six seconds remaining in the frame. The Pride’s Sam Llinares sent one home in the waning seconds to run the score to 8-6 in favor of the Stags with 15 minutes to go.

The first goal of the fourth quarter went to the Pride with Luke Gomez converting in transition to trim the Stags’ edge to 8-7 with 11:19 to go.  Hofstra then pulled even at the 9:02 mark with Brendan Kavanagh netting the equalizer.

However, the final stages of the action belonged to the Stags. After Concannon and Behring traded saves – holding the score at 8-8 into the last five minutes of play – Neubauer stepped up and buried the go-ahead tally with 4:20 to go. Colin Burke would wrap around and net his fifth of the day less than a minute later, and Knostman capped the score with a laser at 1:57 to round out the final score at 11-8.

The Stags will make their first-ever appearance in the CAA Championship Game on Saturday, May 7 at 1 p.m. against the top-seeded host Towson Tigers. The game will be televised live by the American Sports Network and broadcast on CAA.tv.