UConn Holds off Stags in Home Opener at Rafferty Stadium

Fehmel, Hellstein each net hat tricks for Fairfield

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Fairfield University women’s lacrosse team traded goals with visiting Connecticut for most of Wednesday afternoon’s home opener on Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium. However, one second half push by the Huskies proved to be the difference as the Stags fell by a final score of 16-12.

Fairfield (0-2) was led offensively by hat tricks from Alex Fehmel and Riley Hellstein. Fehmel also handed out an assist to round out a four-point day from the Stags’ midfield. Lily Crager and Taylor Mitchell each added two goals, Brenna Connolly netted a goal and an assist, Riley Smith scored a goal and Kathleen Hulseman distributed one assist to complete the Fairfield attack.

In the midfield, Erin Mammele led the effort from the circle with six draw controls, while Hellstein and Fehmel each came away with three draws in addition to two draw ground balls apiece. Smith also pulled in a pair of draw controls as the Stags bested the Huskies (1-0) in that category, 17-13.

Caleigh O’Connor went the distance in the cage, finishing with eight saves, three ground balls and two caused turnovers.

Crager started the scoring just 95 seconds into the contest with the Huskies’ Molly O’Reilly answering less than one minute later. After Fehmel’s first goal of the day staked the Stags to a 2-1 lead, Connecticut made the game’s first run with three straight tallies to claim a 4-2 advantage. The Stags, however, answered with a 3-0 spurt of their own as Crager, Hellstein and Mitchell each rattled the cage to retake a 5-4 edge at 12:35 in the opening period.

The Huskies once again answered, netting back-to-back markers to push ahead by a 6-5 count before Hellstein and Mitchell each converted again to inch Fairfield back in front. Connecticut made the final strike of the opening period as Jacqueline Jordan’s goal with 4:31 to go in the frame knotted the contest at 7-7. The Huskies had an opportunity to bring a lead into the locker room, but Jordan’s free-position shot in the closing seconds was saved by O’Connor to preserve the 7-7 stalemate.

Connecticut struck first after the intermission, jumping out to a 9-7 lead. The Stags responded with Hellstein and Connolly scoring just 13 seconds apart, but the 9-9 tie proved to be the final deadlock of the afternoon. The Huskies netted five of the next six goals to build a 14-10 lead and, despite two more Fehmel tallies to close the gap, the visitors tacked on two more in the closing minutes to leave Conway Field with a 16-12 decision.

Grace Nolan had a seven-point day to pace the Huskies with three goals and four assists. Maggie Tripodi also rang up a hat trick for Connecticut, while Jordan, Brooke Jensen, Olivia Shapiro and Molly O’Reilly each scored twice. Grace Beshlian made 10 saves in her collegiate debut in the cage.

The Stags are back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 22 for a 5 p.m. trip to Columbia. Action is back on Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium next Saturday, Feb. 22, when Fairfield hosts Hofstra in the backend of a doubleheader at 3 p.m. The opening game features Fairfield men’s lacrosse challenging Rutgers at noon.