National : Fairfield fighting for respect in best year in program history

first_imgMichael Roe feels a little disrespected.Despite all Fairfield’s accomplishments this season, the sophomore midfielder takes notice of critics’ claims that the Stags don’t belong with the upper-echelon teams across the nation.But Roe also understands his team has the power to change those opinions in the next two weeks.‘A lot of people out there say our strength of schedule isn’t that great, and the teams we play aren’t the best teams in the world,’ Roe said. ‘We have the opportunity right in front of us to prove that we can beat teams like (Denver) or teams like Ohio State, and we can play with anyone in the country.‘I think we just have to prove all of our haters wrong.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe No. 17 Fairfield lacrosse team (10-2, 3-1 Eastern College Athletic Conference) is one step from turning a good season into a memorable one. The Stags need one win to match a program record with 11 wins, a mark set during the 1998 and 2005 campaigns. But the team is also set on creating a new identity for the program. It starts with ending a six-year NCAA tournament drought and making that the expectation for every season. That journey begins when Fairfield takes on No. 12 Denver at home Saturday.None of Fairfield’s players have ever beaten the Pioneers. It’s a frustrating fact for many of them.The largest hiccup came when the Stags squared off against the Pioneers in last season’s ECAC tournament. After the Stags defeated Loyola 10-9 in the ECAC semifinals, the Pioneers dropped Fairfield by two goals in the title gameIt was Denver that halted the one chance Fairfield had to reach the NCAA tournament. All those losses to the Pioneers stir in the back of the minds of Fairfield’s players, including junior attack Sam Snow.‘I know, personally, I’ve never beaten Denver,’ Snow said. ‘I’ve lost the past two years in a row by two goals, and they kicked us out of the tournament, so this next week is going to be a lot of motivation for a lot of guys to get this win.’But Fairfield is better this season. It started early in the year when the Stags emerged victorious in three straight overtime games.With two comebacks and six overtime periods, Fairfield became a stronger unit.For head coach Andy Copelan, those three games proved that this team was hungrier than in years past. The Stags have won all four of their one-goal games in 2012, compared to last season when they went just 2-5 in similar games.‘It gave me some pretty high blood pressure. I don’t think my wife was too thrilled about it,’ Copelan said. ‘ … It’s a resilient group, and I felt during those moments where nothing was coming easy to us I still think there was just belief for the guys out on the field and the guys on the sideline. We just thought that we were going to get it done.’Snow said the success of the team has led to a better practice environment. Players are practicing harder, knowing more is at stake.The belief has translated to the field. The Stags are beating the teams that they should, winning its games by an average of four goals since March 7. Fairfield’s two lone losses came to No. 1 Loyola and No. 11 Massachusetts.And that has been the one flaw that has led the skeptics to voice their opinion. The Stags still have yet to capture a marquee win to catch the eye of the NCAA tournament selection committee.‘I’ll also say that a lot of that stuff is out of our control,’ Copelan said. ‘We just need to worry about trying to get as many wins as we possibly can and what happens on the other end we have zero control over.’But all that could change when the Stags square off against Denver on Saturday. It would be a defining win for a program that hasn’t defeated the Pioneers since 2005, the last time it made the NCAA tournament. And players feel that this may be their one shot to change the legacy of Fairfield lacrosse and make the nation take notice.‘We are right there, and every goal that we’ve had this year is right within arms reach,’ Roe said. ‘We control our own destiny in a lot of ways, and it’s a goal that every lacrosse player has, let alone every program (to make the NCAA tournament), and it’s no different here.’[email protected] Comments Published on April 16, 2012 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*