Visiting Fairfield University scored two goals in the game's second half, highlighted by sophomore Jordan Ayris' game-winner in the 82nd minute, as the Stags defeated Canisius College 3-2 in MAAC men's soccer action Sunday afternoon at the Demske Sports Complex. The win moves Fairfield to 7-8-1 overall and 3-4-0 in league action, while the Golden Griffins slipped to 8-7-2 overall and 1-6-0 in conference games.
The Griffs got on the board with 6:31 left in the first half as senior Gavin Falconer got the ball 25 yards out off a pass from teammate Will Hudson and fired a shot. Falconer's shot was deflected off a Fairfield defender and went past Fairfield goalkeeper Michael O'Keeffe to give Canisius the 1-0 lead.
Fairfield tied the game in the contest's 66th minute, as a cross from just left of the goal by Reco McLaren got through a Canisius defender and found Nuno Rodrigues, who scored from 10 yards out for his first marker of the season. The Stags had a chance to take the lead on a penalty kick with just under 19 minutes remaining after the Blue and Gold was whistled for a foul inside the box. Canisius senior goalkeeper Kareem Gray kept the game knotted at 1-1 at that point as he made a diving safe to his right on the penalty kick taken by Ayris.
The Griffs had their best chance to re-take the lead in regulation when freshman Alex De Carolis found teammate Regan Steele from 10 yards out. Steele sent his shot at the upper-right corner but O'Keeffe was up to the challenge and made a full-out leaping save, knocking the ball wide of the net to result in a corner kick for the Griffs.
Fairfield took the lead for good with 8:38 left to play when Ayris fired a shot into the bottom right corner of the goal from 12 yards out to put the Stags up 2-1. The Griffs had a chance to knot the game back up in the 85th minute when De Carolis fired a shot at O'Keefe, but the senior from New Zealand was able to make the save to preserve the Stags' lead.
"This game was very similar to all of our other MAAC games, which have also been one-goal games," Canisius head coach Dermot McGrane said. "I give the Fairfield goalkeeper a lot of credit, he's very good, but I definitely think there were spells today where we controlled play. We just have not been able to put the ball in the back of the net when we have had our chances."
Canisius ended the contest with a 19-15 advantage in shots and an 8-3 margin in corner kicks. O'Keefe earned the win after he made nine saves, while Gray made six stops in the loss for the Blue and Gold.
Canisius will close out the 2012 regular season next weekend with a pair of MAAC road games. The Griffs will start their final road swing of the year at Saint Peter's on Friday, Nov. 2. Game time in Jersey City, N.J., is set for 2 p.m.
Game Notes: This was the 25th all-time meeting between Canisius and Fairfield, with the Stags holding a 19-4-2 advantage... Fairfield has downed Canisius by scores of 2-1 in each of the last two seasons... Falconer's first half goal makes him the seventh player in school history to score 10 goals in a season... Hudson's assist was his third of the season, which ties him with teammate Denver Spearman for third on this year's roster... Before the game, Canisius honored its six seniors, who played the final home contest of their careers.