NCAA Team Reviews: Fairfield Stags

Photo credit to Fairfield University
Photo credit to Fairfield University

For the better part of four months, many of us watched some exciting college lacrosse, whether it was on TV, online, or in person.  There were good games, which included all of Championship Weekend, and there were bad games, such as low scoring affairs and of course, the horrendous winter weather.  I take a look back at all 69 Division I teams and how they fared this season and what to look forward to in 2016.

Check out previous recaps: NJIT Highlanders, UMass Lowell River Hawks, VMI Keydets, Manhattan Jaspers, Canisius Golden Griffins, Robert Morris Colonials, St. John’s Red Storm, Wagner Seahawks, Binghamton Bearcats, Bellarmine Knights, Jacksonville Dolphins, Furman Paladins, Lafayette Leopards, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, Siena Saints, Delaware Blue Hens, UMBC Retrievers, Dartmouth Big Green, Providence Friars, Mercer Bears, Penn State Nittany Lions, Hofstra Pride, Michigan Wolverines, UMass Minutemen, Monmouth Hawks, Vermont Catamounts, Sacred Heart Pioneers, Holy Cross Crusaders, Penn Quakers, Villanova Wildcats, Boston Terriers, Quinnipiac Bobcats, Hartford Hawks, Hobart Statesmen, Lehigh Mountain Hawks, Drexel Dragons, Harvard Crimson, Loyola Greyhounds, Air Force Falcons, Detroit Titans


2014 Record 12-4
2014 Conference Record 3-1 (1st in ECAC)
2014 Scoring Offense 11.31 Goals Per Game (19th in DI)
2014 Scoring Defense 8.44 Goals Against Per Game (T8th in DI)
2014 Goals Leaders #15 TJ Neubauer – Sophomore (33 Gs)
#3 Eric Warden – Senior (33 Gs)
2014 Assists Leader #4 Colin McLinden – Junior (29 As)
2014 Points Leader #4 Colin McLinden – Junior (51 Pts)
2014 Goaltending Leader #8 Jack Murphy – Senior (.544 SV %)
2014 Face-Off Leader #12 Michael Roe – Senior (.492 FO %)
2014 Ground Balls Leader #12 Michael Roe – Senior (61 GBs)
2014 Caused Turnovers Leaders #8 Jack Murphy – Senior (14 CTs)
#23 Toby Armour – Senior (14 CTs)
#2 Conor Barr – Sophomore (14 CTs)
2014 Quality Wins Yale (12-11 OT), Ohio State (7-5)
2014 Bad Losses Providence (14-11), Air Force (16-8, 9-8 – ECAC Championship)


2015 Record 9-6
2015 Conference Record 4-1 (1st in CAA)
2015 Scoring Offense 9.60 Goals Per Game (T41st in DI)
2015 Scoring Defense 7.47 Goals Against Per Game (3rd in DI)
2015 Goals Leader #15 TJ Neubauer – Junior (31 Gs)
2015 Assists Leader #1 Tristan Sperry – Senior (24 As)
2015 Points Leader #1 Tristan Sperry – Senior (47 Pts)
2015 Goaltending Leader #40 Tyler Behring – Sophomore (.624 SV %)
2015 Face-Off Leader #12 Will Fox – Freshman (.586 FO %)
2015 Ground Balls Leader #12 Will Fox – Freshman (52 GBs)
2015 Caused Turnovers Leader #44 Matt Borda – Sophomore (16 CTs)
2015 Quality Wins Colgate (13-9), Villanova (11-4)
2015 Bad Losses Holy Cross (10-9), UMass (9-8 – CAA Semifinal)


The Stags came into 2015 off of an impressive 2014 campaign with a disappointing ending, losing to Air Force in the ECAC Championship game. But after going 2-4 to start the season, the team rebounded and only lost two more games to end their season. And similar to 2014, they entered their league tournament with a lot of steam and one of the hottest teams in the nation. But they fell to UMass as the CAA’s top seed in the conference semifinal by a goal. TJ Neubauer led the team once again in goals, but the offense fell to 41st in the nation in goals per game with just over nine-and-a-half. On the other hand, sophomore Tyler Behring took over goaltending duties starting with the Stags win over UMass Lowell and helped the defense rank third in the nation in 7.47 goals against per game.

The Stags opened the season in the new Rafferty Stadium against Holy Cross. Up 9-8, the Crusaders scored two straight to take home the inaugural game 10-9, stunning the Stags. Fairfield rebounded against two below-average teams against Providence and Manhattan, before starting their three-game slide against quality opponents, and all by one goal. Their first loss came against the Seawolves of Stony Brook. Next was a disappointing overtime loss to the hands of the Yale Bulldogs. In that game, the Stags scored five goals in the second and three in the third, but were shutout in the first, fourth, and overtime periods. They lost their third and final game at the hands of the Bucknell Bison. It was a back-and-forth game for most of the 2nd half before Ryan Joseph untied the game with 1:51 left to play to give the Bison a 10-9 win. They got back to their winning ways when they defeated Colgate 13-9 thanks in part to separate 5-0 runs that got the Stags in front 11-3 midway through the 3rd quarter. But there would be a change in net for their next game against UMass Lowell, as sophomore Tyler Behring took over in the cage for the remainder of the season. And for the most part, Fairfield would be cruising ahead for the remainder of the regular season. After their win against the River Hawks, the Stags took care of Villanova, Drexel in their CAA opener, and UMass, to carry a five-game winning streak to Rafferty, where they would stay for the remainder of their season. Fairfield’s only slip-up came against Towson, which was an 8-7 loss to the Tigers, who would eventually win the CAA Championship 31 days later at Rafferty Stadium. But the following week, Fairfield almost suffered another loss, this time to Delaware. Up by five entering the final stanza, the Blue Hens scored five straight to send the game into overtime, where Tristan Sperry scored the game-winner with three minutes left in the second overtime session. They defeated Hofstra the following week 5-4 in a low scoring affair, which had Fairfield score their five goals all in the first quarter, followed by three of Hofstra’s four in the second, then their final goal in the fourth. The Stags hosted the CAA Championship as the conference’s top seed and took on UMass in the semifinals. Down four goals with five-and-a-half to play, the Stags made it a one goal game with 58 seconds left, but UMass won the following face-off, called a timeout, and held the ball to seal the upset, ending yet another promising season for Fairfield.

Fairfield has a ton of potential in them for 2016 yet again. But the only question is if they can get over the hump of faltering in their conference tournament. The Stags are talented, with Neubauer, Behring, and CAA Rookie of the Year Will Fox, along with plenty of other supporting actors, and proved that they are one of the best teams in the CAA. UMass took some hits in the offseason, while Towson took plenty of blows. But not so much the Stags, as all three players listed above are returning in 2016, along with the arrival of Villanova transfer attackman Charlie Horning. The Stags seem to be a good preseason favorite to take home the CAA Championship that is unless they don’t perform to their expectations in the CAA Tournament.


John Fox Midfield St. Augustine (NJ)
Adam Riestis Midfield Allen (TX)
Ryan Zoll Defense St. Paul’s (MD)
McKay Sheahan Attack Johns Creek (GA)
Kendall Keahey Midfield Liverpool (NY)
Matt Sharpe Midfield Duxbury (MA)
Sam Gindhart Goalie Bishop Shanahan (PA)
Brendan Quinn Attack Chaminade (NY)
Charlie Horning Attack Georgetown Prep (MD)/Villanova (PA)
Peter Alimam Midfield St. Ignatius (CA)
Liam Lynch Midfield/FO Bronxville (NY)
Colin Burke Attack Cold Spring Harbor (NY)

The Stags will lose ten players, but will be replaced by 12 incoming recruits and transfers. No addition might be bigger than the transfer of attackman Charlie Horning from Villanova. Horning only started in one game, but appeared in 14, scoring four goals and dishing out five assists on 19 shots. The 22nd ranked recruit in Inside Lacrosse’s Power 100 freshmen in 2014, Horning was also an Under Armour All-American in 2014 and a Maryland First Team All-State selection. Horning should easily get plenty of time at attack; my guess is that he’ll find a starting job right away. Sam Gindhart helped Bishop Shanahan be a threat in District I in Pennsylvania the past two seasons, playing alongside Loyola bound LSM Ryan McNulty. And John Fox is the younger brother of Will, the team’s current face-off specialist.