In the first half of their game against Mount St. Mary’s, the Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse team looked nothing like a team that was battling for first place in the conference.
Mount St. Mary’s (6-5, 3-0 NEC) jumped out in front early and closed the first quarter with a 4-0 lead. From that point, they never looked back and defeated the Bobcats 16-10.
After giving up another goal quickly in the second quarter, Quinnipiac (4-6, 2-1 NEC) tried to dig into the deficit. Attacker Christian Haggerty started it off and extended his consecutive point streak to 24 games by ripping a shot low from the left side that beat Mountaineer goalie T.C. DiBartolo. One minute later, Quinnipiac narrowed the lead to three as senior midfielder Kevin Kelly found Billy Alessi for the score.
The Mount’s leading scorer, Brett Schmidt, gave the Bobcats’ defense trouble all day, and especially in the second quarter. He halted the Quinnipiac scoring run at two by adding his third goal of the day, and the Mount wasn’t done in the quarter. Four different players scored to end the half with a 10-2 advantage and their second five-goal swing of the day.
Quinnipiac started the second half off much better than the first. Jay Binkowski wrapped around the left side of the net and fired a shot into the lower left corner of the net past DiBartolo to start the half.
Still early in the quarter, Bobcat defender Bobby Schnibbe got called for a one-minute penalty for slashing. Mount St. Mary’s quickly capitalized on the man advantage as attacker Andrew Scalley received a pass from Schmidt and put it past Quinnipiac netminder Kevin Benzing. The Bobcats added two more in the quarter to get within six at 11-5.
Heading into the final fifteen minutes of play and needing a big comeback, sophomore Brendan Wilbur attempted to head the spear of the attack. Wilbur, who Quinnipiac head coach Eric Fekete calls, says is, “as fast as anyone,” took the ball and skipped it past DiBartolo to get as close as Quinnipiac would come at 11-6. The Bobcats added four more goals in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough as the Mount added five of their own.
Schmidt scored a hat trick and had three assists to lead the Mount. Cody Lehrer and Andrew Scalley also had hat tricks in the battle for first place in the Northeast Conference.
Basil Kostaras, Wilbur and Binkowski led the Bobcats with two goals a piece while Kelly added one and an assist. Jack Oppenheimer, who’s ninth in Quinnipiac scoring history, also added a goal and an assist in the game.
The Bobcats, who rank fourth in the nation in caused turnovers per game at 10.13, forced 17 turnovers against the Mount. They also outshot the Mountaineers 45-28 despite losing the match 16-10.
“When we play fast, we can play with anybody,” Fekete said. “I thought last Tuesday we played as fast as we did in a long time and we scored 19 goals. On Tuesday we played slower and we lost 14-7. Today in the second half we played fast and scored 7 goals. If we play fast we win, if we don’t we struggle.”
After the loss, Mount St. Mary’s takes over sole possession of first place with just two games remaining in the regular season. Quinnipiac has a home game against Sacred Heart left before they take on Wagner in N.Y. They’ll need to remain one of the top four teams in the conference in order to advance to the NEC semifinals in May.