No. 14/15 Men's Lacrosse Downs Michigan 12-5 in ECAC Semifinals
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 14/15 Fairfield University men’s lacrosse team downed fourth-seeded University of Michigan, 12-5, in the ECAC Lacrosse League Championship semifinal this evening at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The top-seeded Stags improve to 12-3 on the season and tie the program record for victories as they advance to their third ECAC Championship final in the last four seasons.
Fairfield will face third-seeded Air Force in the final on Saturday, May 3 at 5pm live on Fox Sports 2. The Stags' lone ECAC loss this season came against the Falcons.
Junior Colin McLinden scored a career-high four goals to power the Fairfield offense while junior Tristan Sperry had three assists. Senior Eric Warden had a three-point day with two goals and an assist. Sophomore TJ Neubauer and freshman Jake Knostman each tallied two goals.
Senior Jack Murphy had an outstanding night in goal. The ECAC Goalkeeper of the Year stopped 15 shots, tying a season-high, and came away with four groundballs.
Both teams had their chances in the early going but outstanding goalkeeping by Robbie Zonino and Murphy kept the game scoreless until midway through the second quarter. With just under 10 minutes remaining in the period, the Stags won a battle at the end line of the Michigan zone. Sperry broke out of the pack and found a wide open Knostman who bounced a shot by Zonino.
Michigan (5-11) got the equalizer with 3:33 left in the second quarter. Ian King picked up a ground ball and sent quick shot past Murphy for the Wolverines’ first goal of the day. With 18.1 seconds remaining, McLinden returned the lead to the Fairfield, using a screen to go top corner on Zonino and make the score 2-1, a score which would hold at the break.
Fairfield didn’t waste any time scoring in the second half as Neubauer ducked around a defender and went five-hole on Zonino for his 32nd goal of the year at 13:17. Just three minutes later, Sperry found McLinden who wrapped around the back of the cage and stuck in his second goal of the game to push the lead to 4-1.
At 9:31 in the third quarter, the Stags turned the ball over at midfield and it proved costly as King cut the deficit in half, 4-2, with his second goal of the game. Senior Shawn Honovich made it a three-goal game with 2:42 left in the quarter, scoring his first goal of the year in transition. Michigan answered with 44.7 seconds left as Riley Kennedy scored to pull the Wolverines within 5-3.
Fairfield scored 40 seconds into the fourth quarter as McLinden zipped a shot by Zonino for his third goal of the day. Warden made it a four-goal game at 12:59 with his 30th goal of the season. Michigan got it back at 11:59 on a goal by Brendan Gaughan to pull Michigan with 7-4.
Sperry connected with McLinden once more at 9:40 while Warden found Dave Fleming just 1:29 later to push the lead to 9-4. Knostman notched Fairfield’s fourth unanswered goal at 6:03 for his second of the game. After Michigan cut it to 10-5 with 3:54 remaining, Neubauer and Warden scored in a 20-second span to push the lead to 12-5.
Senior Michael Roe went 13-for-20 at the faceoff X with eight groundballs.
Fairfield had 35 ground balls on the night. Senior Toby Armour had two caused turnovers and three ground balls. McLinden added three ground balls while Neubauer had a pair of ground balls.