By Minh Doan, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 2, 2014
As the clock ticked under the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter, Fairfield midfielder Colin McLinden scored his game-high fourth goal to put the Stags up by four, less than two minutes after Michigan redshirt freshman midfielder Brendan Gaughan scored to give the Wolverines some life.
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Shortly thereafter, Fairfield scored two more times to put the game virtually out of reach for the Michigan men’s lacrosse team in the first round of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
The 12-5 loss not only marked the end of the Wolverines’ season, but also the end of their first-ever trip to the postseason in the ECAC’s last season as a conference.
The Wolverines (1-4 ECAC, 5-11 overall) came into Ohio State for the tournament confident from their win over Robert Morris only a week ago. And for a half, it showed, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
For a team playing in its first postseason game, the team showed some poise. Especially impressive for Michigan was freshman goalie Robbie Zonino, who had nine saves in the first half.
“Robbie had an unbelievable game,” said fifth-year senior Thomas Paras. “Both offenses were getting good shots and generating good opportunities, but both teams had trouble finding the net and that shows how good of a game both goalies had.”
The teams went scoreless in the first quarter before Fairfield struck first early in the second quarter.
But freshman attacker Ian King — Michigan’s leading scorer — found paydirt with 3:33 to tie the game up before McLinden scored his first of the day with just 18 seconds left in the half to put the Stags up by one going into the halftime break.
However, as well as the first half went for the Wolverines, the second was the exact opposite.
The Stags (4-1, 11-3) tallied the first two goals of the second half before King struck back with one of his. The two teams then traded scores to put Michigan down just two at the end of the third quarter.
“They were getting good shots,” Paras said. “They’re a great team and they’re going to capitalize on them. They have several players who can put the ball in the back of the net, and when they got their opportunities, they put the ball in the back of the net.”
The fourth quarter is where Fairfield pulled away, scoring seven times to Michigan’s two and putting an end to the team's most successful season in its short history.
The loss also marked the last game seniors will play in a Michigan uniform.
“It’s obviously bittersweet knowing that it’s over for me,” Paras said. “But we did some great things this year, and the trajectory of our program is going to continue to go upward from here. We weren’t satisfied just getting to the ECAC tournament, we wanted to win the tournament. But I couldn’t be happier for the team and what we did this year.”