ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy men’s soccer team was unable to answer a second-half goal from Fairfield on Sunday evening, as the Stags defeated the Midshipmen, 1-0, at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility.
Suffering their first loss of the season, the Mids move to 1-1-0 overall, while the Stags improved to 1-1-0.
With three Navy starters out, a physical battle between the two sides started early with both teams generating shots in the opening 15 minutes, as Fairfield had a shot blocked and another go wide before sophomore Wasswa Robbins put Navy’s first shot off-target in the 12th minute. A yellow card by the Stags’ Joseph Stocchetti at the 16:13 mark put Navy in an excellent position on a free kick, but senior captain JD Wagner’s shot sailed high.
Robbins had the game’s first shot on goal at 24′ with a shot in on Fairfield goalkeeper James Anderson, but the Stag keeper swallowed it up.
After sophomore Charlie Kriel was handed a yellow card in the 27th minute, Navy was able to keep Fairfield at bay until a shot to the lower right-side from Rasmus Sorensen Rejnhold was saved by Navy sophomore goalkeeper Pierce Holbrook at 35′. Robbins created another chance for the home team when he again got in close on Anderson, but the Stag thwarted him again, and another chance by the Mids four minutes later was wiped out by an offsides whistle.
A slow start offensively by both sides in the second half changed in the 52nd minute, as Fairfield’s Alex Oliveira was able to find open space near midfield and moved the ball along before crossing it over to Kaea Rangihaeata, who feathered a pass back across to Raz Amir, and Amir beat Holbrook with a kick to the top-right corner of the net.
With the Stags opting to play conservatively afterward, it took until 62′ for Navy to generate another shot on target when sophomore Connor Walcott put one to the right side of the goal, but Anderson made the save, which led to Thomas Drillien putting his own shot on net later in the same minute, with Holbrook recording his second stop of the game.
Freshman A.J. Schuetz got a chance for the Mids in the 65th minute before his shot was blocked by the Fairfield defenders, while another offsides call whistled in the 66th minute negated what would have been the game-tying goal for Navy.
Drillien had the last Fairfield shot at 75′, while junior Baba Kallie found room in the 87th minute before putting a shot off-target, and a Navy corner kick with 1:37 remaining amounted to nothing, marking the last chances in the Mids’ comeback attempt.
“The guys played well for long periods of time and created chances,” said Navy head coach Tim O’Donohue. “We had most of the possession, especially later on, but you have to finish. We knew if we had the ball for long periods, we were susceptible on counters by Fairfield. A lot of guys were out of their normal position with Jason Aoyama, David Jackson and Cristian Coelho all out and it affected us a bit. We will rebound and it’s still very early in the season.”
Along with Stocchetti and Kriel, Fairfield’s Alex Marin was given a yellow card in the 56th minute.
Fairfield ended the night with an 11-8 advantage in total shots, while both teams tallied three shots on goal. Navy held the edge in corners, 2-0, but also suffered four offside calls compared to none for the Stags.
The Mids will stay in Annapolis next week for a pair of non-conference matchups, hosting Fairleigh Dickinson at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2 … Navy then turns around to face St. Francis Brooklyn on Sunday, Sept. 4, with kickoff set for 5 p.m. from the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility.