BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Fairfield University women's lacrosse team will battle for the 2017 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference crown and a berth to the NCAA tournament on Sunday at noon. The Stags take on top seed and host Canisius in Buffalo, N.Y. at the Demske Sports Complex, the game can also be seen live on ESPN3.
No. 2 Fairfield (12-5, 7-1 MAAC) vs. No. 1 Canisius (14-4, 8-0 MAAC): The Stags and Griffs will meet on Sunday for the 26th time in program history. Canisius has won three straight over Fairfield with the Stags last win being the 2015 MAAC Championship Game.
Fairfield in the MAAC Tournament: The Stags are making their eighth appearance in the MAAC Title Game, and first since 2015. Sunday will mark the fourth time the team will match up with Canisius in the Championship Game, and third time on the Griff's home turf. Fairfield has won three MAAC Tournament titles overall (2001, 2009, 2015).
Scouting the Griffs:Canisius is led by MAAC Midfielder of the Year, Erica Evans, who had six points in the team's 16-6 semifinal win over Niagara. Evans also scooped up six groundballs, grabbed two draw controls, and caused four turnovers. Six total Griffs scored in the victory, all of which had at least two goals. MAAC Second Teamer Rebecca VanLaeken played just over 53 minutes between the pipes, while recording two saves.
Last Time Out: The Stags advanced to the title game with a 15-8 win over Marist in the semifinals. Riley Hellstein paced the offense with four goals and two assists. Scarlett Sulliman recorded four points with three goals and an assist on the day. Senior Alex Fehmel poured in three goals, while Brenna Connolly tallied three points with a goal and two assists. Kathleen Hulseman scored twice against the Red Foxes, Lily Crager posted a goal and an assist, and Olivia Russell rounded out the scoring with one goal. Hellstein also grabbed a team-high seven draw controls as Caleigh O'Connor played all 60 minutes between the pipes while making two saves.
Career Milestones:Seniors Riley Hellstein and Alex Fehmel have now both tallied over 100 goals in their Fairfield careers, making them just the 11th and 12th players in program history to hit that mark.
Both seniors also rank in the Top 10 in free position goals, Hellstein with 43 and Fehmel with 33. And are tied with the most career game-winning goals (10).
Hellstein has also racked up 168 draw controls in her career to become the program's all-time leader in that category.
Fehmel has jumped into the Top 10 this season with 78 caused turnovers in her career, placing her with the seventh most in program history.
National Notice:Fairfield as a team ranks among the best in the nation at converting their free position shots. For the season, they have scored 54 times on 108 chances (.500) ranking tied for 13th best in the country.
The Stags post the No. 1 scoring defense in the MAAC and tied for 13th best in the country allowing just 8.76 goals per game.
At 3.44 goals per game, Hellstein ranks second in the MAAC and 10th best in the nation. And with 4.50 points per game, is second in the league while ranking 20th best in the country. She also leads the MAAC with 1.19 free position goals per game, a mark that is 5th best in the nation.
Leaders in the MAAC:Besides Hellstein on the offensive end, the Stags' senior goalkeeper Caleigh O'Connor has the best goals against average in the conference and 14th best in the country allowing just 8.80 goals per game.
Sophomore Erin Mammele has collected 83 draw controls to break the program's single-season record of 55 set last year by Colleen Reynolds. And with an average of 4.88 per game she is fourth best in the MAAC.
Junior Brenna Connolly leads the Stags with 23 assists this season while recording 1.35 per game, which ranks seventh best in the league.
Fehmel and Hellstein rank fourth and seventh in the league with 1.59 and 1.44 caused turnovers per game, respectively.
Looking Ahead:With a win on Sunday, Fairfield would earn their fourth MAAC Tournament Title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in program history. The NCAA selection show will be aired on Sunday at 9:00 p.m.