Training fields

Banditland is now a buffalo dream field


Growing up in the Buffalo suburb of East Amherst, Connor Fields was a huge fan of the Buffalo Bandits and attended many games with his family, friends and families. He played with his youth lacrosse teams at halftime in Bandits games, but his dream was to someday don a Bandits jersey and play on that same pitch for the team he was rooted for when he was a child.

That dream came true on Saturday night when Fields, 26, scored four goals and won the heavyweight player of the game title in the Bandits’ 16-9 win over the Calgary Roughnecks at KeyBank Center.

“It was a really special time,” said Fields. “I have always dreamed of having this logo on my chest one day and playing in this arena. It was great to win and it was great to see Banditland come up the way they did.

It was quite a journey for Fields to go from being a Banditland fan to hearing the cheers of Banditland as a player.

Fields, a 6-1, 180-pound forward with a left hand shot, began his high school lacrosse career at Williamsville North High School. When his family moved to South Buffalo in his second season, Fields transferred to Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School where he graduated before pursuing a distinguished academic career at the University of Albany. In 69 career games for the Great Danes, Fields has scored 199 goals (5e of all time in DI history) and 165 assists for 364 points (4e all-time ID) in 69 games. He would lead DI in goals scored in two different seasons. To put his college career in perspective, he scored 25 more goals than compatriot Great Dane and NLL MVP, Lyle Thompson.

In 2018, Fields turned pro when he was placed third overall by the Charlotte Hounds in the Major League Lacrosse Draft and the San Diego Seals made him No. 10.e overall selection in the National Lacrosse League Draft. Due to knee surgery, Fields didn’t make his NLL debut until Week 17 of the 2018-19 campaign. He had two goals and three assists for five points in two games, then added a goal in the only playoff game he was involved in.

The following season, Fields led all NLL rookies with 18 goals and 44 points in 12 games before the 2019-20 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic which also wiped out the entire 2020 season- 21. On the night of the 2021 NLL Draft, Fields was traded to the Bandits for a first-round pick in 2021 and a second-round pick in 2022.

His dream has come true.

He was a Buffalo Bandit.

“I loved San Diego and the staff and owners there and the players so it was bittersweet,” Fields said. “I grew up idolizing bandits and always wanted to be a bandit, but at the same time, I loved being in San Diego. I can’t say enough about how excited I am to play Buffalo. It really is a dream of mine and a dream come true now.

When Fields was in the stands as a fan, he paid special attention to star player John Tavares, who is now the Bandits’ head coach. Tavares is the NLL’s all-time leader in games played (308), goals (815), assists (934) and points (1,749). The NLL’s three-time MVP has spent his entire career with the Bandits and joined the coaching staff as an assistant in 2016 and is now in his second season as a head coach.

For Fields, playing for Tavares is about as surreal as it gets.

“He was my favorite player growing up,” said Fields. “I didn’t tell him, but I grew up watching him play and his style. I tried to mix it with my way of playing and trying to learn by watching him play. He was a special player and it was really cool to be able to watch him play night after night. Every time you went to a game he would put on a show.

Fields may not have told Tavares he was his favorite player, but was able to get him that memo.

“It’s an honor to have been Connor’s favorite lacrosse player growing up,” said Tavares. “I am delighted that Connor is now wearing orange and black in his hometown of Buffalo and performing in front of his family and friends. Connor is a very athletic southpaw who can score from the outside or the inside and he has the ability to create his own shot. If Connor continues to score four goals per game, as he did in his first game as a Bandit, he will quickly become a fan favorite.

The Bandits are feeling good about themselves heading into Saturday’s road game against the Rochester Knighthawks. There was a lot of excitement around the team during training camp and they certainly started the season off on the right foot with their victory over the Roughnekcs. But the Bandits are not ready to rest on their laurels after one solid competition.

“It was a great game for us, but it was just a game,” said Fields. “We don’t want to be too strong emotionally just because of this one game. “

Connor Fields is certainly living a dream right now.

As a child, he played lacrosse and fell in love with the sport while falling in love with the Buffalo Bandits. He cheered on the team from the stands and he was hopeful that one day he would hear the cheers of Banditland in case he was able to not only play in the NLL but also adjust to his hometown squad.

Watching John Tavares and his other heroes at the time prompted him to make sure his dream came true.

“It was really exciting but also motivating to watch the Bandits play because you want to be on this field someday,” said Fields. “It’s really cool to go to games but it’s even cooler to play in these games.”

And for Fields, things are really cool for this kid who once had a dream and who is now an inspiration to the next generation of young lacrosse players in the Buffalo area.

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