UVM proves it’s top cat in men’s lacrosse tilt

By on February 28, 2007

Forget, for a moment, that the Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse team lost a lunch line of seniors, all of whom played significant roles, from last season’s team.

This game was about revenge. Vermont had defeated Quinnipiac twice in the past two seasons, including a 12-11 overtime thriller on May Weekend 2005, and the Bobcats were eager to return the favor.

“There’s no doubt that we owe Vermont for the past few years,” said Chris Griffin, one of the eight senior captains, prior to the season-opener at home Saturday.

“Many of the guys [that experienced those two losses] are fired up and can’t wait to get out there.”

The Catamounts, however, looked like the hungry ones on Saturday. They scored the first goal 2:25 into the game en route to a 15-8 stomping before a mostly partisan crowd of 406.

It was a tale of two halves, as the two teams engaged in a rock fight for much of the first. That all changed with 3:27 remaining in the second stanza, as Vermont’s Sean Layton scored on a man-up chance to fuel the largest run of the afternoon. The Catamounts reeled off nine straight goals, turning a 4-4 deadlock to a 13-4 lead with 11:52 to go in the fourth. Layton (game-high five points on four goals and an assist) found the net three times during the surge.

Quinnipiac’s Mike Stottler, who was sidelined for the entire 2006 campaign with an injury, thwarted the run with a goal during a man-up situation with 8:17 to go.

Vermont was able to permeate a stagnant Bobcat defense for much of the second half, slipping into the middle and creating scoring opportunities.

The callow crew wasn’t able to make up for it on the other side of the field, as Vermont keeper Daryl Swarts stopped a game-high 13 shots, several at point-blank range. He scooped up nine groundballs on the afternoon.

Junior goalie Roger Fish, who saw time as a freshman before falling out of favor last year, made five stops while allowing 12 goals on 35 shots on goal in nearly 47 minutes in net. Freshman Jamie Prudden closed out the game allowing three goals in 13:09.

After pummeling Wagner at home in last year’s season-opener, the Bobcats wanted to repeat history, especially during a game that added some extra juice.

“[With Vermont], there’s a lot of emotion involved,” junior attack Sean Endicott said.

“Anytime you’re involved in a couple of tight losses with a team, you feel like you owe them. We feel like we should have won those [past two] games and we owe them a loss.”

Quinnipiac found chemistry offensively after the aforementioned Stottler goal, which sparked a 3-0 run. The Bobcats scored two more goals in a span of 49 seconds, as seniors Anthony Poerio and Tucker Prudden slung shots past Swarts to make it 13-7 with 6:35 remaining.

It was too little, too late. Vermont’s Layton ended the run with his fifth goal off a dish from Pete Hein during a man-up.

Stottler, a high-profile recruit who started as a freshman, looked like he hadn’t missed a beat from the last time he was on the field. The senior had four goals to lead Quinnipiac. Prudden collected two goals and two assists, while Poerio chipped in with a goal and two assists.

Senior speed demon Mike Hennessey scooped up six groundballs, while Poerio and freshman Ben Mullaney each had five.

Beyond Layton for Vermont, Hein had three goals and two assists. Dan Zwirko registered two goals and an assist.

With 25 freshmen and eight sophomores, the Bobcats might need some time to develop chemistry.

“We are expecting to see some young guys step it up, as it will be needed,” explained Griffin, who led last year’s 7-6 team in assists and was third in scoring.

“We did lose many of our starters from last year, but our senior class has a lot of experience. [With] younger guys on the team, we try to help by infusing them with the confidence that they need to push their skills.”

The Bobcats face Providence on the road Friday.


About Zach Smart