The last time Lafayette met Fairfield was November 1, 2003 which resulted in a 2-0 victory for the Leopards, who launched a barrage of 37 shots against the Stags. However, these two former Patriot League rivals had fought many battles over the previous years with unpredictable results. The previous year during Lafayette’s run to a Patriot League championship and top 20 ranking, Fairfield nearly stopped the Leopard’s 17 game win streak as our Maroon and White won by one goal 3-2. The Stags had their own PL championship in previous years defeating the Leopards twice during the season.
The Stags return to Rappolt Field, tomorrow, with another championship earned last year, the MAAC. They did it with a late season surge upsetting Monmouth and Quinnipiac in the process. Reading their preseason press releases reveals a determination to not only return to the league tournament, but win it again. They bring back a veteran group having graduated only 3 seniors. They have replaced those seniors with four freshman and one graduate student from England (Hannah Pike who played for the England under 20 squad). The team can score, having posted 48 goals on 243 shots but, gave up 52 goals on 272 shots. Their successful shot percentage is a very capable 19 pct but that is not the whole story.
Their leading goal scorer is Ann Burgoyne who scored 19 goals and 2 assists for a very gaudy 47 pct success rate, goals vs shots taken. Burgoyne, number 23, seems to score in bunches as she had several hat tricks to her credit. She ranked 4th nationally in goals per game and 7th in overall points. She was elected preseason player of the year in the MAAC.
Looking at the box scores Burgoyne teams up with senior classmate Julie de Paeux , number 1. Head Coach Jackie Kane looks like she wanted to bolster the diversity of scorers with her recruitment of Pike. The Stags face a daunting schedule with Iowa, Maryland , and American to follow the Leopards later on in the season.
The Leopards have likewise added to their roster, a strong class of eight freshman and also return four senior starters including leading scorer, Amanda Magadan returning from the Junior Pan Am games after scoring several goals in the process. The Leopards have looked stronger at each exhibition and I suspect the excitement of the opener will raise their level of play even more. Aside from Magadan I expect to see our finishing forwards become real threats as our defense continues to demonstrate a stingy attitude defending the goal. The Leopard midfield play will be crucial as they need to control the ball and tempo of the game while delivering and finishing.
The Stags ended the season last year with a 6-1 loss to Patriot League champion Boston University
Other common opponents include Quinnipiac and Monmouth whom they split with, Sienna who they beat 6-1 and Colgate early on, who they beat 6-2 .
This will be an entertaining match up for fans given its history, first game excitement , and potential on field match ups.