FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Stags scored two goals in the final 28 minutes of the contest and threatened for a third, but in the end Fairfield dug themselves a hole they could not climb out of, as they dropped a 4-3 decision to visiting Iona. The loss is just their second loss to the Gaels since 2006.
“It’s disappointing,” Head Coach Jim O’Brien said. “Going up against a team that was struggling for results and they came ready to play. As usual, we gave up that first goal which was really soft.”
Although the Gaels (2-11-0, 1-3-0 MAAC) scored four of the first five goals of the game, it was the home Stags (4-7-2, 1-2-1 MAAC) who absolutely dominated the offensive opportunities. Fairfield out-shot the Gaels 39-10 in the game, and took all 11 corner kicks in the contest.
When Cassidy Boegel took in a pass from Holly Habyan and finished top corner for her third goal of the season, things were looking pretty bright for the Stags.
But Iona weathered the storm. Megan Wood took advantage of confusion in the defensive third and tied the score with her second goal of the season.
Now, Fairfield had to get creative to try and take the lead back. The Stags would attempt 15 of the next 16 shots in the first half, but none of them found the back of the net.
That’s because the Iona goalkeeper had the game of her life. Taylor Rice collected seven saves in the first half and saw 18 total shots from a pressing Fairfield offense. The Stags’ best opportunity came in the 31st minute when Rice saved shots from Boegel and Jackie Goudreault and turned the Stags aside after attempting three shots in less than a minute.
Of the 18 shots in the first half, two of the attempts hit the post, and eight were on target.
“I think their goalkeeper had an outstanding game,” Coach O’Brien said. “She made the saves she needed to make. We didn’t really earn the goals that we scored. I think in the end we were attacking, we were pushing forward and their goalkeeper came up big.”
During the first 20 minutes of the second half, everything changed. Iona only had three shots on target, but they all found the back of the net. Charlotte Stuart tallied two long goals and Erica Flowers also chipped the ball into the net from distance, and the Stags found themselves down 4-1 with less than 30 minutes to play.
Fairfield would attempt nine of the final 10 shots in the match, and almost pulled off a miracle. Karolyn Collins, who was pushed forward late in the contest, dribbled the ball to the middle of the field and launched a shot that went off the fingertips of Rice and into the back of the net. It was the fourth goal of the season for Collins, which ties her for the team lead.
It was also really the only mistake Rice had in the match.
The Stags made it a match when Brenna Brown was taken down in the box, which set up a Fairfield penalty kick. Anna Borea remained perfect in her career on penalty opportunities, as her finish made it a 4-3 contest with less than five minutes left.
Collins’ header that went well high was the only attempt for the Stags during that span, and the comeback ended.
In total, the Stags set a season-high with 39 shots while conceding just 10 to Iona. Seventeen of those shots were on goal for the Stags, who also took all 11 corner kicks in the evening. Rice had a career-high 13 saves in the game while Sophia DeVita recorded one in her first start of 2015.
The Stags, who need a bounce back win, will host senior day on Saturday at 1pm against Marist.