LOUDONVILLE — The common thread in all four of the Siena men’s lacrosse team’s losses thus far this season?
“Terrible second halves,” Siena coach Liam Gleason said after yet another rough final 30 minutes in Tuesday’s 21-12 loss to Fairfield at Hickey Field.
Siena (2-4) was outscored 13-4 in the second half Tuesday, including an 11-2 run from Fairfield to close the game after Siena tied the score at 10-10 with 10:38 left in the third quarter.
In its four losses this season, Siena has been outscored 44-19 after halftime. Conversely, outside of being on the wrong end of a 12-1 second quarter in its Feb. 15 loss to Hobart, Siena has outscored its six opponents 39-31 before halftime.
Tuesday, Siena was stride for stride with Fairfield (5-2) through 30 minutes, but once again tailed off as the game wore on.
“They [Fairfield] played hard, a couple things didn’t go our way and we let it get to us,” said Siena goalie Anthony Tebbano, who finished with 21 saves. “We’ve got to take the lows a little higher, not get down on each other and just keep playing.”
“Once we get down, sometimes we aren’t as good there,” said Siena attackman George Rusnak, who scored a career-high five goals. “That’s going to be a big point of emphasis. I know we’ve been working on that. We’ve definitely improved, but there’s definitely work to be done.”
The teams were neck-and-neck through the game’s first 35 minutes, with neither team leading by more than two. But, back-to-back goals 51 seconds apart by Fairfield’s Bryce Ford put the Stags up 12-10 with 9:47 left in the third, then things started to spiral out of control for the Saints.
Siena had stayed out of the penalty box until the midpoint of the third quarter, but were called for three penalties in less than two minutes, all of which resulted in goals. The Saints also had problems with faceoff violations, which led to a pair of second-half penalties and allowed Fairfield to have possession heavily tilted in its favor.
“We had too many faceoff violations in the second half,” Gleason said. “Those equal penalties, and [add] a couple unforced penalties and you put yourselves in a box that many times early on in the third quarter, you give them the opportunity to make a run.”
The Saints were still within relative striking distance after the third quarter, down 16-12, but were held scoreless in the fourth as Fairfield pulled away.
“We start off hot. We’re able to play in that first half,” Gleason said. “We’ve got to play a full 60 [minutes] and we’ve got to be consistent. We’ve got to take care of the ball and be able to handle when we’re up big in the second half — which we’ve done in a couple games so far — and when we’re down.”
Dylan Beckwith finished with five goals and three assists for Fairfield, which had four other players record five points apiece in Taylor Strough (4 goals, 1 assist), Bryce Ford (3 goals, 2 assists), Brian Reda (3 goals, 2 assists) and Patrick Drake (2 goals, 3 assists).
In addition to Rusnak’s career-high five goals, Jack Kiernan added three goals and two assists for Siena.
With six non-conference games behind them, the Saints now look forward to MAAC play, which gets underway Saturday with a 1 p.m. home game against Monmouth.
“We’ve got to dial it in on Saturday,” Rusnak said.
“We’re getting pumped up for some MAAC play against Monmouth this Saturday,” Tebbano said, “and we’ll be ready.”
Fairfield 3 5 8 5 — 21
Siena 2 6 4 0 — 12
Fairfield scoring: Beckwith 5-3, Strough 4-1, B. Ford 3-2, Reda 3-2, Drake 2-3, T. Ford 2-0, Keech 1-0, Barnard 1-0, Labetti 0-2, Dreyer 0-1. Siena scoring: Rusnak 5-0, Kiernan 3-2, Pepe 1-0, Drillock 1-0, Gleason 1-1, Watts 1-0, Lantieri 0-1, Meir 0-1, Pantalone 0-1, Hart 0-1, Julien 0-1. Goalies: Fairfield, Corasantini, 17 saves, Siena, Tebbano, 21 saves. Attendance: 174.
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.