If you blinked or looked away for a split second, you missed something that hasn’t been done in Quinnipiac lacrosse history in 10 years.
Quinnipiac goalie Kevin Benzing scored his first career goal in the first quarter and made 16 saves. Kevin Kelly scored five goals and Christian Haggerty tallied five points, leading the Bobcats to a 19-15 victory over Northeast Conference rival Robert Morris Saturday at the Quinnipiac Field Hockey and Lacrosse Turf Field.
“I was pretty excited,” Benzing said. “I used to play midfield back when I was a little kid, so I scored a couple [goals] there, but this was probably the best.”
Benzing heaved the ball across the field, finding the back of the net on a fly after Colonial goalie Charles Ruppert was found out of the net.
TJ Barnett was the last goalie to score a goal for the then-Quinnipiac Braves on Mar. 25, 2001. The Bobcats (4-4, 2-0 NEC) had arguably one of their best starts to a game this season, outscoring the Colonials (5-5, 0-2) 6-1 through the first 13 minutes of play in the first quarter. Robert Morris, which commits the fewest turnovers in the conference, turned the ball over five times in the first.
“As a defense I know we worked on a lot of crease stuff that they do,” said Benzing, who ranks 20th in the nation in saves per game. “I have to give my hat off to the offense today. If it wasn’t for them, this could’ve been a totally different game.”
Since their 9-7 loss to UMBC March 26, the Bobcats have scored 32 goals in their past two games – both conference victories.
“Our defense has been our backbone through the first three-to-four games, but after that I think we’ve been scoring a lot of goals,” said head coach Eric Fekete, whose club causes the most turnovers in the league and sixth most in the country. “We knew coming into this game that they could score, and kind of laid it out to our offense in the week that we’ve got to put some points up on the board if we want to win this game.”
Brendan Wilbur and Jack Oppenheimer each scored twice, giving Quinnipiac a 10-4 halftime lead.
Kelly started the scoring just 90 seconds into the contest, taking advantage of an extra man opportunity. Haggerty assisted on Kelly’s goal and scored one of his own two minutes later. Wilbur made the score 3-0 with 9:59 left in the quarter.
The Colonials fought back in the second half, turning a five-goal deficit into a 14-13 game with 8:52 left in the fourth.
RMU’s Trevor Moore scored with 13:49 left to open the third quarter to spark a 4-2 run. He and the rest of the Colonials outscored the Bobcats 7-4 and outshot them 16-13 in the period.
Moore, who finished with five goals and two assists, capped a 4-0 run to narrow it to one when he bounced a shot past Benzing at the 8:52 mark.
Fekete told his team before the game: “Don’t get rattled; keep composed; they’re going to make runs; it’s going to happen. All that really matters is what happens in the last five minutes of the game.”
Freshman Dylan Webster started a 5-1 run in the fourth quarter, giving the Bobcats a two-goal lead with 7:28 left. Four other players scored in the run, including a diving backhanded goal by Oppenheimer with 4:50 to go, giving QU its four-goal lead back, 17-13.
“The third quarter got a little slow for us,” Fekete said. “But I was pretty proud that we came back hard in the fourth and we did a nice job.”
The Bobcats host Mount St. Mary’s Saturday at 1 p.m.
Photo credit: Matt Eisenberg