Courtesy: Carlisle Stockton

Stags Visit No. 2 Penn State Friday on ESPNU

Courtesy: Fairfield University
March 15, 2017

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Fairfield University men’s lacrosse team wraps up a four-game road swing with a nationally-televised outing on ESPNU at No. 2 Penn State on Friday, March 17 at 4 p.m. Due to the cancellation of Wednesday’s scheduled home game against Cleveland State, Friday’s contest also concludes a season-opening stretch featuring six of seven games played away from Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium.

Fairfield University’s 75th Anniversary
March 17, 2017 is the 75th Anniversary of Fairfield University, and Fairfield men’s lacrosse will be a key participant in the institution’s year-long celebration. Next Saturday, March 25, the Stags will officially celebrate the occasion in conjunction with their 1 p.m. game against Villanova on Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium.

Fairfield’s Last Time Out
Fairfield erased a six-goal deficit in the second half to force overtime against host Yale this past Saturday at Reese Stadium. But unfortunately for the Stags, it was the No. 15 Bulldogs who found the back of the net in the second extra session to escape Reese Stadium with an 11-10 win.

Travis Ford had a career-high four goals for the Stags and Colin Burke added a hat trick. Tyler Behring made 12 saves in the cage, including several highlight reel stops at point blank range. The First Team All-CAA netminder also scooped up three ground balls.

Scouting Penn State
After matching the best start in program history at 7-0, Penn State has risen to No. 2 in this week’s USILA Coaches’ Poll as one of five remaining unbeaten teams. The Nittany Lions are also No. 3 in the Inside Lacrosse/Maverik Media Poll and the nation’s top-ranked team in the most recent US Lacrosse Rankings. Penn State most recently defeated previously unbeaten Harvard, 15-12, in Cambridge last Saturday.

The Nittany Lions have both scored and ceded double-digit goals in all seven of their games this season. The attack is led by 29 goals and 32 total points from freshman Mac O’Keefe, the nation’s leading goal scorer. Grant Ament shares the team high in points courtesy of 16 goals and 16 assists, with Nick Spillane also cracking the 20-point plateau with 13 goals and seven assists.

Colby Kneese has spent the majority of the time in the cage, playing 377:50 of 420 minutes between the posts en route to a 11.43 goals-against average and .493 save percentage (72 goals allowed, 70 saves).

Gerard Arceri has taken 186 faceoffs, winning 128 draws (.688)  to rank second in the nation on the dot and has also collected an NCAA-best 71 ground balls. He has also potted three goals for the Nittany Lions. Billy Lombardi supplements the faceoff game with a 26-of-35 (.743) showing to guide Penn State to a collective 154-of-221 (.697) performance.

March 21, 2009: Fairfield 5, Penn State 4 (OT)
Nick Baglio’s goal with 1:20 to play in the first overtime sent the Stags to a 5-4 win at Penn State on March 21, 2009 in what would prove to be the final ECAC Lacrosse League meeting between the two programs. Brent Adams added two goals for the Stags, with Logan Rausse and John Snellman each netting one goal and Max Trunz distributing a pair of assists. Charlie Cipriano made 12 saves in the cage, including four in the fourth quarter.

Penn State was led by two goals from Chris Hogan, most recently of the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

The game was the only meeting between Fairfield and Penn State during the tenure of Head Coach Andy Copelan, who was in his first year on the Stags’ sideline during the 2009 campaign.

Fairfield vs. Ranked Opponents
Fairfield has defeated at least one ranked opponent (in the USILA Coaches’ Poll) in seven of Andy Copelan’s nine seasons at the helm of the Stags - including a win at then-No. 1 Denver during the 2013 season. The Stags have four wins over top-10 programs during the Andy Copelan era.

Based upon this week’s edition of the poll, Friday’s game at No. 2 Penn State is the next of three upcoming chances for the Stags to topple a nationally-ranked foe this spring.

After challenging then-No. 18 Stony Brook and then-No. 15 Yale in back-to-back outings, the Stags are playing three consecutive nationally-ranked opponents for the first time since 2013. In that campaign, Fairfield closed their spring with a 10-9 win at No. 1 Denver, a 14-8 loss at No. 13 Ohio State and a 10-8 loss to No. 3 Denver in the ECAC Championship Semifinals.

The second-ranked Nittany Lions also mark Fairfield’s highest-ranked opponent since that win at No. 1 Denver four seasons ago.

Travis Ford: CAA Rookie of the Week
After his career-best four goals on Saturday at Yale, Travis Ford has been tabbed as the CAA Rookie of the Week. In addition to netting Fairfield’s first goal of the day in the second quarter, he scored twice during the third quarter that saw the Stags shave the margin from 8-2 to 9-6 and also potted the man-up goal that cut the deficit to 9-8 early in the fourth frame.

On the season, Ford ranks second on the Stags behind Colin Burke (10g, 6a) with nine goals. His nine points are also second behind Burke, a distinction Ford shares with classmate Dylan Beckwith (4g, 5a).

Working Overtime
Saturday’s 11-10 loss at Yale marked the third time in the last four meetings that the Stags and Bulldogs have gone into overtime, including the second straight clash contested at Reese Stadium. Fairfield’s last double-overtime game prior to last Saturday was a 12-11 win over CAA foe Delaware on April 18, 2015.

At 66:46 of game time, Saturday’s game at Yale was Fairfield’s longest outing since a triple-overtime win (69:53) at Hofstra on Feb. 28, 2012.

The Week Ahead
The Stags will play back-to-back home games for the first time this spring - and just their second and third home contests of the season overall - with visits from NJIT (March 21) and Villanova (March 25). Next Saturday’s visit from the Wildcats, which will be broadcast live on ESPN3, marks the celebration of Fairfield University’s 75th Anniversary and the 25th varsity season of Fairfield men’s lacrosse.

The homestand will span three games in total as the Stags open their CAA slate with a visit from Hofstra under the lights on Saturday, April 1 at 7 p.m.

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