Fairfield men's lacrosse back to work after big win over Denver
Published 3:50 pm, Tuesday, April 23, 2013
If the Fairfield Stags were still flying a mile high after upsetting top-ranked Denver this weekend, coach Andy Copelan put them back on the ground during Monday's practice.
"We just fed the guys some humble pie maybe an hour ago," the Fairfield head coach said by phone after an afternoon workout. "We are already trying to bury it and to look ahead. It's a long season and you don't want a team to be defined by any one single moment.
"Hopefully, there's still a decent amount of lacrosse left for this group."
The coach-speak aside, Copelan and the Stags (8-5) had an awesome weekend in Denver with the program's first win (10-9) over a No. 1 team coming when senior Sam Snow scored 56 seconds into overtime at Peter Barton Stadium.
The win locked up a spot in the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament, with one game to go in the regular season, and assured Fairfield of finishing .500 or better for a school -record fifth straight season. Junior goalie Jack Murphy was named ECAC Defensive Player of the Week after making 11 saves.
"It was pretty cool," Copelan said. "We had put ourselves in a position where we had to win one of these last two just to get into the ECAC tournament and to our team's credit I think they responded appropriately"
The Stags, who vaulted back into the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Coaches Poll at No. 20, close the regular season Saturday at Ohio State. The ECACs are May 2-4 at Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y.
Fairfield's win marks just the second time since 1999, according to the school's sports information department, that an unranked school has beaten a No. 1 during the regular season.
Oddly enough, Copelan was part of the other game, too. Bucknell upset Maryland in 2006 with Copelan, who happens to be a Bison graduate, on the Terps' sidelines as an assistant.
"It's kind of wild," Copelan said. "I was on that Maryland staff and I think we had been ranked No. 1 for a week and then we got beat by my alma mater. It's kind of funny how it all comes full circle, but certainly, being on the winning side is my preference."
In another twist, for the second straight year Snow scored the game-winning goal against Denver in overtime. Last year he needed only 32 seconds to beat the then 10th-ranked Pioneers in overtime in Fairfield.
Prior to the Denver game, Fairfield's highest-ranked win came when it knocked off No. 3 Notre Dame in 2010. The Stags have played only one other game against a No. 1 team and that resulted in a 19-4 loss to Loyola, Md. in 1999.
"I was really proud of our kids," Copelan said. "It's been an interesting year. We started out playing pretty decent ball, hit a little bit of a rough patch in the middle of the year, and now we are starting to get back to a decent place where we are playing at a pretty high level again. Hopefully, we can peak at the right time.
Fairfield lost to eventual national champion Loyola in last year's ECAC final, marking the second straight season the team fell in the title game. The last time the school went to the NCAA tournament was 2005, which was before Copelan arrived.
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