Rutgers vs. Fairfield
March 10, 2006
The Game Story:
PISCATAWAY, NJ - Fairfield’s Greg Downing and Chris Manley had a hand combined for 10 points as Fairfield defeated Rutgers (1-2, 0-1 ECAC), 11-7, in men’s lacrosse action on Friday night.

The heroics of Downing and Manley (seven goals, three assists) offset a three-goal performance from the Scarlet Knights’ Matt Gaines (Abingdon, MD). Rutgers’ offense produced 40 shots (21 first half, 19 second half), as Chris Doctor (Skaneateles, NY) had two goals and Austin Rodgers (Baltimore, MD) added a goal and an assist. The Scarlet Knights successfully fought back from a 9-3 third-quarter deficit, rallying to within three goals (10-7) with under four minutes to play in the fourth quarter, but could get no closer.

The Stags (2-1, 1-0 ECAC) raced out to a 5-1 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to two goals from Chris Manley and one each from Travis Nelson, Downing and Brendan Finnerty. After falling behind 2-0, Doctor scored unassisted at the 9:18 mark of the opening stanza, but Fairfield closed out the quarter with three straight goals over a span of 7:42.

Sophomore Brian Melvin (Livingston, NJ) netted his first goal of the year with 5:13 to play in the second quarter, making the score 5-2. Gaines quickly followed less than a minute later (4:53), brining the deficit to just two goals, 5-3. Fairfield scored to give itself a three-goal lead at the half (6-3) when Mike Bocklett took a pass from Josh Thornton with 3:43 remaining.

A three-goal spurt in the third quarter gave Fairfield its biggest lead (9-3), as Downing scored twice and Manley (three goals, two assists) netted an extra-man tally. Rodgers started RU’s comeback with an unassisted goal at 2:19, follow by Doctor’s score 1:14 later.

Gaines netted back-to-back goals in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, and the Scarlet Knights were dominate in the face-off X, winning three-of-five draws in the final period. Following Gaines’ goal to make the score 10-7, Fairfield won the ensuing face-off, but RU forced a turnover and Devon Britts (Scottsville, VA) dodged toward the cage with a scoring opportunity. However, his shot was saved by Fairfield Mike Kruger. The Stags’ junior goalie also made another key save on a shot by Colin Checcio (Wayne, PA) moments later.

Sophomore Ted Melanson (Baltimore, MD) won 13-of-21 face-offs and had a 33-29 edge in ground balls, but only 18 of their 40 shots came on goal. Rutgers also failed to convert on nine extra-man opportunities, while Fairfield was a perfect two-for-two. Through three games, Melanson is winning face-offs at a .582 clip (32-of-55).

Friday’s game marked Fairfield first-ever as a member of the ECAC. The Stags previously played in the Great Western Lacrosse League, earning the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament last year.

The Scarlet Knights return to action on Tuesday, March 14, when they close out their four-game season-opening home stand with a 3:00 p.m. contest against Manhattan.