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Norwalk Men Fuel Fairfield's Rise in Lax Polls

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Two players from Norwalk have been instrumental in the rise of the Fairfield University men’s lacrosse team to No. 14 in the latest NCAA nationwide poll. On Saturday, Brent Adams and John Snellman will get a better indication, along with the rest of the Stags, on how they stack up against the nation’s elite programs.

Adams and Snellman, both seniors who played at Norwalk High, are the leading scorers for Fairfield (9-1), which is ranked 14th in two national polls. The Stags host No. 4 Loyola of Maryland (9-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday in a battle of the last two undefeated teams in East Coast Athletic Conference play. Fairfield is 2-0 in the conference, and Loyola is 3-0.

“The juices are always flowing when we play Loyola,’’ Adams said. “We know they’re going to be pumped up, and we have to be ready.”

Adams, a middie, rarely comes off the field for the Stags. He has 22 goals and six assists this season, with three game-winning goals. Snellman leads Fairfield in goals with 28. His streak of 20 games with at least one goal is the fifth longest active streak in the nation. He has career highs in goals and points (28), and is 17th in the nation with an average of 2.5 goals per game.

Snellman and Adams have been starters since their freshmen years at Fairfield, which finished 7-6 overall in 2009. The team has been trending upward since, finishing 8-6 last year and 3-3 in the league. The Stags have recorded critical victories in the past two years, including a win over No. 3 Notre Dame in 2010 and a 10-0 win over then-No. 16 Loyola in the league tournament last spring.

“It has been a team effort,: Snellman said. “Even though we lost a lot of guys to graduation last year, we’ve had a lot of underclassmen step up and have done a great job for us.”

Adams said one of the lures for them coming out of Norwalk was to go a program where they could be instrumental in establishing a foundation. They needed to travel only a few exits up I-95 to do it.

“Coming out of high school you’re always looking for a good team and better competition,’’ Adams said. “Wherever we would’ve gone, we wanted to make a contribution to the team.”

Adams and Snellman have made more than a contribution. They have been among the linchpins coach Andrew Copelan has leaned on to help Fairfield’s rise in the polls. “We’ve worked hard at it,’’ said Snellman, who played for Finland at the 2010 World Lacrosse Championship. “We start with 6 a.m. practices in the beginning of September. We’ve been with Coach Copelan from the beginning. It’s been straight up from the time we set foot on campus.”

Norwalk’s Louie DiGiacomo, a Brien McMahon grad, is a freshman on the team along with Kip McMahon, a freshman from Weston, and Stephen Dodd, a freshman from Greenwich. Loyola also features some Fairfield County players, including starting goalkeeper Jack Runke, a native of Fairfield. Darien’s Tyler Foley and Alex Yackery and Justin Shaw are also on the Loyola roster.

Children under 12 will be admitted free to Saturday’s game. And they will be treated to what should be a college classic. “We gotta get it,’’ Snellman said.

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