Located in between lacrosse recruiting hotbeds Long Island and the Hudson Valley â€” and surrounded by such traditional high school powers as Darien, Wilton and Greenwich â€” Fairfield University appears to be a sleeping giant in the world of Division I college lax.
Though the Stags made the NCAA tournament as recently as 2005, they have struggled of late.
But now, Fairfield may have found the perfect young coach to re-energize the program.
Andy Copelan, who led Marist to its first NCAA tournament appearance as Red Foxes head coach in 2005, has been named to take over at Fairfield after spending the last two years as an assistant at Maryland. (Photo courtesy University of Maryland athletics)
“Andrew Copelan,”:http://umterps.cstv.com/sports/m-lacros/mtt/copelan_andrew00.html who led Marist to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 2005 as the Red Foxes’ head coach before serving as an assistant at Maryland the last two years, has been named Fairfield’s new coach.
He takes over for Ted Spencer. Spencer, who was diagnosed with throat cancer last fall, had served as the Stags’ coach for 13 seasons. He will now become associate athletic director at Fairfield.
Several players from the LoHud â€” Lakeland/Panas product Billy Honovich, Somers’ Matt Petre, Yorktown’s Gary Raniolo and Fox Lane’s Shannon Sturz â€” play for the Stags. Petre was a New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association second-team selection on defense this past season.
Three of the best players during Spencer’s tenure were also from the area â€” Somers’ Tom Werney and John Jay grads Mike Bocklet and Matt Bocklet.
They were all members of the Stags team that won the Great West League championship in 2005 by beating Denver 9-8 in a dramatic championship game I happened to attend.
Copelan, who played collegiately at Bucknell and who has worked Fairfield’s summer camp, hopes to enjoy some similar-type moments of his own with the Stags.
With the ECAC losing several teams to the newly created Big East Conference that will be headed by Syracuse and Georgetown, Fairfield will also be ushering in a new era.
Fairfield and current ECAC members Loyola and Hobart will be joined by Air Force, Bellarmine, Denver, Ohio State and Quinnipiac in a newly realigned conference in 2010.