The Quinnipiac University men’s lacrosse team had a chance to finish the 2007 season with a record above .500, but lost their final two games to finish with a record of 6-7. The 2008 edition has the seen the Bobcats match last year’s win total, starting the season 6-0 for the first time since 2001.
Last year, the Bobcats surrendered 9.5 goals a game. Thus far this season, the Bobcats have relied on their defense more than ever, which is currently ranked fourth in the nation allowing just 5.17 goals per game.
Head coach Eric Fekete was determined to sure up his team’s defensive problems added, 15 freshman and 3 sophomore transfers to this year’s team.
Depth is something that Fekete preaches about this year’s squad.
“It’s a whole new team almost,” Fekete said. “I think we probably play more players than we’ve ever played. We’ve obviously lost a lot of experience last year but I think the trade-off has been we have so much more depth from A-Z.”
The Bobcats need to find a way to compensate for losing 68 percent of its scoring from a year ago. Graduated is top scoring midfielder Mike Stottler, who netted 31 goals last year, and attackman Tucker Prudden who scored 24 goals. Their loss left Fekete wondering where his scoring would come from.
The Bobcats have dealt with the loss of firepower well, relying on the positive play of some of their top returning players.
Sophomore attackman Todd Kaiser is one of the top returning scorers. He finished last year’s campaign with 13 goals and has 3 goals and 5 assists this year. This year Kaiser ranks 8th on the team in points so far in the young season.
Junior midfielder Gary Messina, who netted two goals last year, already has four goals and six assists.
Sophomore Garrett Kerr leads the Bobcats in goals and points with 13 goals and 14 points. Classmate and Butler University transfer Ted Dimond is second on the team with six goals.
Sophomore goaltender Kevin Benzing has played all but five minutes between the pipes for the Bobcats so far this season. Like Dimond, Benzing also is Butler transfer.
The team is loaded with young talent, but lack an abundance of upperclassmen. There are only four seniors on the roster and the Bobcats will look to 2007 assists leader Anthony Poerio, who will be returning as a graduate student, for leadership. Poerio described the team as “young, but it’s got a different dynamic this year, great defense, great goalie.”
This week’s Turfer Athletic NEILA poll ranked the Bobcats No. 2 in New England. Senior defender Drew Maceranka cited the team’s depth and youth as the reason for this early success.
“I definitely think it’s a lot of guys who have been playing before and a lot more younger guys and a lot of guys are getting through,” Maceranka said.
Fekete said a new perspective can be credited for the team’s early season success.
“We’ve really slowed down this season and gone to a game to game approach,” Fekete said. “We don’t think about anyone but who were playing Saturday.”
After having already matched last season’s win total, the Bobcats now have their sights set on a new goal. “To make it to the NCAA tournament” according to Maceranka.
The Bobcats will face one of their biggest tests of the season on Saturday when perenial Great Western Lacrosse League powerhouse Ohio State Buckeyes visit Hamden.
After losing 14-6 in last year’s contest, the blue and gold will be looking for revenge.
“It’s going to be a big game for us; it’s our first league game,” Poerio said. “Last year we struggled a little bit when we went over there, but we got a good game plan going into this year.”
A win over the Buckeyes, who are ranked No. 19 in the Nike/IL Media poll, would help to solidify their standing atop the GWLL. The league opener for both teams is set to start at 1 p.m. in Hamden.