FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The first-ever collegiate soccer game in the history of Rafferty Stadium was inches away from becoming a memorable one. Over the final 65 minutes of the game, the Stags out-shot Manhattan 13-4, including two attempts in the first overtime period that required diving saves from Manhattan’s keeper, but the Stags were held to a lone goal in a 1-1 draw against the Jaspers. Jenny Jacobs was the Stag to touch the back of the net for her first career goal.
“That was promising,” Head Coach Jim O'Brien said about the late offensive flurry. “Our fitness and our depth showed that we were the better team. The wind played a factor…We had a number of great chances that we just didn’t convert. Hopefully, at some point and time soon we will start to convert those and come up with some wins in the MAAC.”
The Stags (3-6-2, 0-1-1 MAAC) fell behind early after Manhattan’s (6-3-1, 2-0-1 MAAC) Erica Modena touched net for her league-tying eighth goal of the season. Modena showed why she is arguably the best striker in the MAAC, pushing up several times and missing a few close attempts. Fortunately for the Stags, she was only able to tally a single goal.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Jacobs ran down the far side of the box and hauled in an Elena Santos cross, which went through the legs of an entire row of defenders, and knocked it inside the net for her first score of her career. Coming into the match, Jacobs has caused defenders problems with her speed and had attempted 26 shots before tonight. This one she converted.
“It felt really good,” Jacobs said. “I’m really glad it came. I’ve been really frustrated lately, not being able to get anything in, but I’ve worked with Stuart Dick and Ross Stride after practice and it really paid off.”
“Jenny is a work in progress,” Coach O’Brien said. “She’s got a great deal of potential. During the recruiting process with her, I was very impressed with the work rate, the energy level that she bring to the team, whether she is in the starting lineup or comes off the bench, and also she’s working hard after practice doing some extra work in front of the goal.”
After that goal, the match was dominated by the Stags. Their best opportunity came in the first overtime period, when shots by Holly Habyan and Jacobs were on target but were stopped by diving saves from reigning MAAC Defensive Player of the Week Kristen Skonieczny. The Stags would take two more shots during the half, and both were also great chances. Brenna Brown found herself alone near the post but her tapped shot went off the wrong side of her foot andGrace Landers charged for a cross but her attempt also went wide.
After a Manhattan corner kick, the Stags had one last shot at the three points. With the clock ticking down from ten seconds, Brown unleashed a shot with under two seconds remaining but her shot sailed just over the crossbar to cement the draw.
With the tie, the Stags collect their first points of the conference season and extend their unbeaten streak against Manhattan to 13 games, dating back to 2003.
The Stags out-shot Manhattan 19-10 but Skonieczny totaled five saves and Jenna Pike collected two.
“When we have gotten that first goal, good things have happened,” O’Brien said. “We need to really concentrate on doing a better job defending, try and get ourselves a shutout which we haven’t recorded yet. I think that will help us and go a long way as we move forward in the conference.”
Fairfield will now embark on their longest road trip of the season as their bus up to Buffalo, N.Y. to take on Canisius in a match that will be streamed live on ESPN3 on Saturday at 7pm.