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Men’s lacrosse wins thriller
After losing their first two league games, Todd Kaiser and the Bobcats men’s lacrosse team were not going to let another conference team defeat them.
The team hosted Great Western Lacrosse League foe, No. 19 Denver, on April 4. After struggling in the first half, the Bobcats came from behind and pulled out a victory in the second half, beating the Pioneers, 11-10.
The Bobcats improve to 3-6 on the season and 1-2 in the GWLL, while the loss drops Denver to 6-5 on the year and 1-1 in the GWLL.
The Pioneers came out and controlled the ball from the opening faceoff. When the Bobcats did have the ball, they made bad passes and struggled to move the ball. Denver capitalized on its mistakes, scoring first with a goal from Alex Gajic.
Denver was in complete control until Quinnipiac’s Garett Kerr tied it up at 1-1 after a Pioneer penalty. Following Kerr’s goal, Denver’s Todd Baxter and Quinnipiac’s Kaiser exchanged goals tying up the score at 2.
The Pioneers got it going again in the second quarter, as they struck three times in the first five minutes to gain a 5-2 lead. Zach Dendas halted the scoring spree with a goal on an extra-man opportunity. With only three seconds left in the quarter, Baxter scored again, putting Denver up by three.
Denver came out still in control in the second half, shutting down any opportunities which came the Bobcats’ way. It was not until five minutes in when the Bobcats got into the driver seat thanks to a goal from Kevin Kelly, assisted by Kaiser.
Three minutes later, Bobcat Gary Messina chipped in with a goal of his own to cut the Pioneers’ lead to 6-5. The Bobcats continued to apply pressure at the Denver net until Kaiser drove hard to the net and fired one past Zander Buteax to tie up the game at 6-6. Kaiser scored his third goal of the day with just 17 seconds left to give the Bobcats a 7-6 lead after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Bobcats continued their momentum. Two minutes into the period, Jim Gianfelice caught a pass from Jack Oppenheimer and put it in the net, giving the Bobcats an 8-6 lead.
Less than a minute later, Murray responded with a goal to make it a one goal game. After a pummel of shots, Alex DeAlmeida snuck a shot past Buteax for a goal, giving Quinnipiac a 9-7 lead.
Soon after, Kaiser tacked on his fourth goal of the game to extend the Bobcats’ lead to 10-7. Following a Denver turnover, Oppenheimer scored his first goal of the afternoon, giving the Bobcats an 11-7 lead with six minutes left.
With a little less than two minutes left in the contest, the Pioneers snuck one past Benzing to cut the Bobcat lead to 11-8. Denver regained possession and scored another goal thirty seconds later to bring the game within two.
With under a minute left, the Bobcats committed a penalty, giving the Pioneers an extra-man opportunity. Denver took that opportunity and scored thanks to a goal from Smith, with 46 seconds left on the clock. After the goal, Denver took one more shot on goal but it was saved by Benzing, one of his 16 saves on the afternoon.
The Bobcats were not going to let this game slip away from their paws. They managed to hold onto the ball for the final seconds and secured their first GWLL win of the season. Head coach Eric Fekete was pleased with the win.
“The guys did a terrific job coming out and playing (in the second half) like it was a new game from the start,” Fekete said. “In the second half, we slowed everything down and let the game come to us, then we executed on our chances when we got them.”
Following the victory, Bobcat goalie Kevin Benzing enjoyed the win but looked to the future at the same time.
“It’s a great win because it’s a GWLL win and after losing to rivals Ohio State and Air Force our hopes for going back to Detroit for the playoffs were pretty low, now we have to beat Notre Dame or Bellarmine and we’ll be in the playoffs,” Benzing said.
The Bobcats will return to action on Saturday against rival Sacred Heart in a non-conference game at the Quinnipiac Field Hockey and Lacrosse Turf Field at 1 p.m. Fekete emphasized the importance of this upcoming game.
“Sacred Heart is always been a humongous rivalry game for us and we have a lot of emotion and confidence coming out of this game,” he said. “Hopefully, it’ll take us where we need to go next week.”