By John Cirillo with Drew Kingsley
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Fairfield University fabulous freshman Colin Burke put a cherry atop the Stags regular season sundae by taking home honors as both Colonial Athletic Association Co-Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, and was joined by teammates TJ Neubauer and Tyler Behring as First Team All-CAA.
The Lloyd Harbor, Long Island-product becomes the CAA’s first-ever freshman to be named Player of the Year which he shares this spring with Ryan Drenner of No. 12 Towson. Burke’s Rookie of the Year laurels come on the heels of seven CAA Rookie of the Week selection this, including four during the five weeks of CAA play.
Burke is the leading scorer in the CAA with 41 goals and 55 total points. The Stags’ attackman leads all freshmen in goals per game (13th overall) nationally, and is third among rookies (34th overall) in points per game. Burke has scored at least one goal in all 15 games of his rookie campaign and totaled three or more points in 12 contests (80 percent).
“I am proud of our All-CAA honorees, our coaching staff and our entire team for overcoming a slow start to the season to win our third consecutive regular season title,” says head coach Andy Copelan, in his eighth year at the helm of the Stags. “The guys receiving individual honors would be the first to tell you that these are team awards, and that’s what I am most proud of. This is a special group of young men.”
Burke becomes the highest scoring freshman in Fairfield lacrosse history in both goals and points. He has tallied the first 40-goal season and the first 55-point season by a Stag since 1999 when Spencer Steele ’00 scored program-record 48 goals and matched Matt Callaghan ’98 with a program-best 75 points.
Also a two-time ECAC Rookie of the Week during the regular season, Burke, who was also a two-time ECAC Rookie of the Week during the regular season, is Fairfield’s third straight Rookie of the Year at the conference level. Will Fox was the CAA Rookie of the Year in 2015, and Dave Fleming was tabbed as the ECAC Lacrosse League Rookie of the Year in 2014.
Burke rounds out his treasure-trove of All-CAA honors as a First Team selection and a member of the CAA All-Rookie Team.
Senior midfielder TJ Neubauer joins Burke on the First Team All-CAA is. Now a two-time member of the All-CAA First Team. The product of Glen Arm, Maryland, ranks second in the conference behind his teammate with 2.15 goals per game and is eighth in the CAA with 2.38 points per game. He also ranks second in the CAA – first among non-faceoff specialists – with 3.92 ground balls per game.
Neubauer has scored 28 goals with three assists this spring. He has totaled 119 career points and shares third place with J.T. Groarke (1999) on the Stags’ all-time goals list with 106. The two-year co-captain of the Stags, who was a fourth round draft pick by the Rochester Rattlers of Major League Lacrosse, is one point shy of joining Fairfield’s all-time top 10 in total points. He would tie Travis Nelson (2008), who amassed 120 career points from 2005-08.
During a stellar Stags career, Neubauer is a two-time First Team All-New England selection and was named First Team All-ECAC in 2014.
Junior goalkeeper Tyler Behring completes the Stags trio that were tabbed for First Team All-CAA laurels. The Little Silver, New Jersey, native is the CAA and ranks eighth in the nation with 11.60 saves per game. His .559 save percentage slots him second in the CAA (12th nationally), while his 9.63 goals-against average is fourth in the CAA and 26th in the country.
Behring, who garners his second career All-CAA distinction after a Second Team nod in 2015, was named the USILA Defensive Player of the Week after making 19 saves in an 8-6 CAA win over UMass on April 16. His 19 saves is the most by a CAA goalkeeper this season aside from Behring’s own 23-save showing against Bucknell on Feb. 20.
Senior co-captain Charlie Schnider was selected Second Team All-CAA as a midfielder for the second straight year. Schnider is the CAA’s leader and ranks 17th nationally with 1.93 assists per game. With 29 assists and 10 goals, he also slots fourth in the Association with 2.60 points per contest.
Schnider is four assists shy of the Fairfield single-season record of 33 helpers established by Groarke in 1997 and matched by Callaghan in 1998. Groarke and Callaghan are the only Stags to have ever reached the 30-assist mark in a season; each Fairfield Athletics Hall of Famer did so twice in their respective careers.
Sophomore faceoff specialist Will Fox is now also a two-time Second Team All-CAA honoree after earning the distinction in addition to CAA Rookie of the Year laurels last spring. The Mullica, New Jersey, product ranks second in the CAA with a .556 win percentage (134-of-241) as the Stags’ primary faceoff man. He also ranks second on the team behind Neubauer with 47 ground balls. Fox won a career-best 20 draws (on 25 attempts) in the win over UMass Lowell on March 1.
Fox ranks sixth on Fairfield’s all-time list with 134 faceoff wins this season and slots eighth with his .556 winning percentage. He has taken 444 draws in his two seasons to date, ranking fifth in program history with 253 wins and second all-time with a .570 winning percentage.
Rounding out the Stags’ Second Team All-CAA selections is junior defenseman Andrew Eidenshink, who started all 15 games. A native of Wyncote, Pa., Eidenshink, collected 15 ground balls with five caused turnovers. The Fairfield defense has allowed 9.8 goals per game and with the man-down unit ranking second in the CAA and 17th nationally with a .690 success rate.The defensive specialist has been charged with marking the opposition’s top attackman, with performances including limiting Hofstra’s Sam Llinares to one goal (man-up) and shutting out Cole Shafer of Drexel. Llinares and Shafer were both Second Team All-CAA honorees this year.
In addition to its All-CAA teams, the Association also released its 2016 All-Academic Team. Among the honoree’s was Fairfield junior co-captain Jake Knostman. An Accounting major with a 3.99 cumulative grade-point average, the Bainbridge Island, Washington-bred Knostman has scored 13 goals with two assists this spring to go along with 10 ground balls in the Stags’ midfield.
After claiming a share of the CAA regular season title, Fairfield has earned the No. 2 seed in the CAA postseason. The Stags will challenge third-seeded Hofstra on Thursday, May 5 at 7 p.m. in the semifinal round. The 2016 CAA Championship is being held at top-seeded Towson’s Johnny Unitas Stadium.