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Barnett Crucial for men’s lacrosse
Looking back one year ago on Saturday, April 15, 2000, the Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse team dropped a 15-10 heartbreaker to interstate rival, Sacred Heart University. The Braves record dropped to 5-5 and they were knocked out of playoff contention, finishing 4-5 in the MAAC and 5-8 overall. This year the tables have turned, and with a little bit of hard work, determination, and a talented Braves squad, these players have turned the program around and made a name for Quinnipiac University Lacrosse across the nation. The Braves are currently 9-0 in the MAAC and 12-1 overall, tied for the best record in the nation.
This year it’s a different, more exciting story, as the Braves beat that same interstate rival, knocking off the Pioneers 13-10, to clinch the MAAC regular season championship and guarantee a first place seed for the championship to be held in Poughkeepsie, NY from May 4 to May 6.
Looking back on everything that has happened with the shift in the program, one major reason the men’s team has been so efficient is the powerful play of sophomore goalie T.J. Barnett.
Barnett, after a successful high school career came to Quinnipiac in hopes of success. Hopes were not good enough; he needed to put in effort, work, and lots of practice to be the player he is today. Looking back to last year, Barnett says, “We knew our expectations were a lot higher this year, especially after having a successful fall season and not loosing a lot to graduation. The freshman really stepped it up. Our goal was to play our best, and if we played out best we would be unstoppable. We are all amazed, but not shocked at our record.” Indeed, the Braves have no reason to be shocked, as they came out strong and showed they could put up the numbers.
In fact, Barnett’s numbers have been more than impressive this season. Not only is he leading the MAAC in save percentage and goals-against average, but he is also ranked in the NCAA Division I rankings as one of the best goalies in the nation. As of April 15, Barnett was ranked fifth in save percentage, saving .644 of opponent’s shots, and is also ranked 13th in goals-against average, allowing only 8.14 goals per game, while possessing excellent stick skills, with the best defense in the MAAC, not to say the least, one of the best in the country.
Barnett’s hard work in the fall season has motivated him and his team to succeed, and has more than proved worthy this season. “Last year I focused more on working out, but this year I focused more on my form and technique. I was still in high school as a freshman and I needed to get in better position in goal, and work on passing and clearing. I also worked a lot on getting rid of the ball quicker and pushing the tempo up to a transition game,” Barnett says.
Barnett is very dependable in goal and feels he has comfortably adjusted from his freshman year to his sophomore year. “My team can depend on me, game in and game out. I will be there when times are tough, and when times are good. They know they are have a guy who is in the game and who is not quiet…I am going to be a leader and getting everyone pumped during the game,” Barnetts says.
Barnett is very vocal while in goal and controls the defense, making it one of the best in the nation, holding opponents to a meager 8.33 goals per game, while scoring 16.33 goals per game, for a scoring margin of eight goals. He also ranks fourth in the nation, acquiring an impressive rating of 100.26, making 163 saves for the season.
A large reason why the Bay Shore, NY native landed at Braves field was the combo of twin brothers Joe and Mike Baglio. Barnett says that he has never played without a Baglio brother on his team since he picked up a lacrosse stick. Barnett and the Baglio brothers played lacrosse together at Bay Shore High School on Long Island.
The Baglio brothers are also making some noise in the NCAA’s; Joe Baglio is currently number one in the country in points (69 pts., 40 goals, 25 assists) and averages 3.08 goals per game and 1.92 assists. Mike Baglio is currently fifth in points (51 pts., 41 goals, 10 assists).
As far as pressure is concerned, count on Barnett to shake it off, as he will lead his team to Poughkeepsie for Quinnipiac to claim its first ever MAAC championship, and hopefully its first ever at large bid into the Division I NCAA tournament. Barnetts says, “Going into the last game, after losing to Stony Brook, we have a little more pressure, because we are playing a good program. We deserve a shot in the NCAA and we can play with anybody.”
Unfortunately for Quinnipiac, Hartford beat Stony Brook 10-9, and Stony Brook beat the Braves 14-7, its only loss of the year. Until now, it’s been a long road for the men’s lacrosse team, but they have overcome almost every obstacle. The true test will come when the play in the MAAC championship and hopefully finishing the season at 15-1. Fortunately for the Braves, the team can look up to the solid man between the posts, T.J. Barnett to spark the Braves to their first ever MAAC lacrosse championship.