FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Paced by five-goal performances from freshman attackman Ryan Doran and sophomore attackman Shane Fable, nine Hawks scored as the Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad exploded for a 21-10 road win over Fairfield (0-1) at Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium on Saturday afternoon. With their second consecutive victory, the Hawks open the season 2-0 for the first time since 2016.
The 21 goals match the most scored by the Hawks since a 21-9 home victory over Sacred Heart on April 19, 2014.
"This was a great team effort, all-around," said head coach Taylor Wray following the win. "I told our guys to play with conviction and confidence and to compete on every play. They did that."
Saint Joseph's starting attack unit of Doran (5g, 1a), Fable (5g), and sophomore Nate Patterson (3g, 2a) combined for 62 percent of SJU's goal-scoring efforts while sophomore midfielder Nick Vernacchio added a four-point performance with one goal and a team-high three assists.
"Our young attack group played like veterans, and they are really starting to build some nice chemistry together," said Wray.
Freshman face-off specialist Zach Cole turned in another outstanding performance from the X, going 21-for-28 (75 percent), including a 13-for-17 first half, with a team-high nine ground balls... plus two goals and two helpers. Sophomore short stick defensive midfielder Jack Anderson added eight ground balls, seven right off of the face-off.
Sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler (2-0) made 12 saves in 57:27, including nine in the first half alone, for his 12th collegiate victory.
"Zach Cole was exceptional again, which helped us carry momentum," said Wray. "When your goalkeeper has nine first-half saves and your face-off guy is dominant and has four points to boot, it's going to be a good day."
Paced by Doran’s first-quarter hat trick, SJU jumped out to a 6-2 edge by the end of the first quarter and an 11-4 advantage at the half.
Doran’s first collegiate goal served as the first of the game as the rookie scored on a feed from junior long stick midfielder Liam Hare less than two minutes in (1Q, 13:06).
"Once I got my first goal, it was just a confidence boost, and we kept rolling," said Doran. "I'm just really proud of my teammates. We had a great week of practice and just had a great win. The guys are really happy right now."
Cole won the ensuing face-off, and freshman long stick midfielder Matt Popeck scooped up the ground ball for an SJU possession. 29 seconds later, Vernacchio found Patterson for the sophomore attackman's first of the day as SJU grew its edge to 2-0 at the 12:18 mark.
Fairfield got on the board (1Q, 11:19) and had an opportunity to equalize mid-way through the quarter, but Adler made back-to-back-to-back saves (7:48, 7:40, 7:31) to keep the Stags scoreless.
Saint Joseph’s then earned a 1:00 EMO on a Fairfield cross check, and Doran converted his second of the day just 14 seconds into the penalty, assisted by Vernacchio.
Vernacchio initiated SJU’s fourth consecutive scoring play of the day; the sophomore captain caused Fairfield’s Brian Reda to turn the ball over with 3:15 remaining in the first and gobbled up the ground ball to push SJU into an offensive possession.
Six seconds later, Anderson found Fable to put SJU up by three, 4-1.
The three-goal advantage forced the Stags into a timeout (1Q, 3:06), and Cole won the following face-off possession, plus the ground ball, and dished it off to junior long stick midfielder Josh Bosher, who put away SJU’s fifth goal of the quarter (1Q, 2:55).
Fairfield scored again with 2:19 to go, but Doran completed his first-quarter hat trick with 1:41 to play to give the Hawks the 6-2 advantage.
The Hawks (Fable, 2Q, 13:45) and Stags (2Q, 10:23) swapped goals to open the second quarter, but SJU then scored three in a row over a 42-second span from Cole (off the face-off), Fable (EMO), and Doran (assisted by Cole off the face-off) to go up by seven, 10-3, at the 9:35 mark.
Fairfield scored its fourth of the day (2Q, 5:21) before freshman midfielder Andrew Chilson put away his first collegiate goal with 45 ticks remaining in the first half to send the Hawks into the lockerroom up 11-4.
The third quarter was more of the same from the Crimson and Gray as sophomore midfielder Austin Strazzulla, who made his first collegiate start, scored twice in SJU’s 5-1 third frame. The defensive unit held Fairfield to just three shots on goal in the third, and Adler came up with two saves, including one in a Stags’ EMO situation.
Both teams scored five goals apiece in the fourth quarter, capped by freshman midfielder Andrew Derasmo's first collegiate goal (4Q, 2:05).
"We still turned the ball over too many times and we need to clean up our execution in the half field, but we are getting better," closed Wray. "When you are in the early stages of the season, that's all your focus should be on: being better today than yesterday and being better tomorrow than today."
Saint Joseph's returns home to host Providence (1-2) next Saturday, February 23. Opening face-off is set for 1:00 p.m. on Sweeney Field.