Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse team back to building

Sean Treppedi

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The Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse team had high expectations coming into the year after capping last season off with a 12-4 record, a MAAC title and a trip to the NCAA tournament.

The Bobcats (2-6) looked to ride that momentum into this season, but faced some early speed bumps in their 2016-2017 campaign. Four of their six losses have been by two goals or fewer as they have struggled to win some 50-50 games that have come down to the wire.

“We have played some decent spans of lacrosse, but need to put together a good 60-minute effort,” head coach Eric Fekete said.

A major transition that the Bobcats have been adjusting to this year are the holes that were left behind by a big departing senior class last season.

“We lost some great leaders last season, and our senior class this year is small,” Fekete said. “(Our) team chemistry is always a work in progress, so we will keep working to get it right.”

The adjustments took longer than the Bobcats anticipated, as the team took some time to figure out their defensive core and achieve the same team chemistry they had on the field last season.

“We lost a little bit (of chemistry), but I think it’s starting to come back now,” junior attackman Brian Feldman said. “Like last year in April, we really went through and killed it, so we’re hoping we’re going to do it again. We all know we gotta win out to get to the conference playoffs, and our chemistry is going well, so we should be able to fight through.”

Feldman has been the biggest asset to the Bobcats’ offensive production this year as he currently leads the team with 29 points, 26 of them being goals. Feldman currently leads the MAAC in goals per game with 3.14. Opposing goalkeepers have their hands full with Feldman, as he also leads the MAAC in shots per game with a total of 79 on the year.

The team has no worries about the fruitful contributions of Feldman, but is looking to become more technically sound and find more balance as the season winds down.

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“We’ve been doing it in practice this week very well,” Feldman said. “We’ve been spacing out. The spacing in our game has been not great. We’ve been playing custard up which causes a lot of turnovers and bad passes. We’re picking up the ground balls a lot better than we were in the beginning of the season.”

A major piece of adversity the Bobcats have had to face this year is playing games and practices at neutral locations as their new stadium is constructed on campus. Quinnipiac has played home games at Yale’s Reese Stadium and practices have been 15 minutes down the road at Cheshire Academy.

“We have faced some challenges this year with ongoing construction and playing on the road. No excuses though we need to improve the quality of the game on game day,” Fekete said.

The improved stadium will feature new locker rooms, a press box and artificial turf, and it will seat 1,500. The Bobcats will no longer have to operate out of the athletic center, and their new facility will be more logistically convenient for practices and games.

Aside from technical improvements and operating at neutral locations, the Bobcats have found it difficult to play hard for full games and not just segments at a time.

“I think it’s just playing a full 60 minutes,” senior goalkeeper Jack Brust said. “I think we’ve been really good in spurts for a quarter or two here and there, but those kind of lose it by the end of the game, and I think that’s kind of a maturity thing. So we’re trying to figure it out. It’s taken a little bit longer than we would have liked, but we have the talent.”

Brust was a major piece to the Bobcats’ dominant postseason run last year as he was awarded the MAAC Tournament’s most outstanding player. This season, Brust currently leads the MAAC in saves per game with an average of 13.5 still despite starting half of the games thus far due to injury.

“Last year, it was pretty easy for me to do my job. We had a lot of seniors and a lot of leadership, but the union has really grown and the last few games we’ve played really well,” Brust said. “Obviously, that makes my job a lot easier, so we’re there, and I think we’re one or two plays away from being 4-2 or 4-3 as opposed to (2-6), so defensive side of the ball I’m happy with where we’re at.”

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The Bobcats know they have an uphill battle ahead, but the concensus is that the first half has been a learning experience and that they have the necessary pieces to get back into their groove.

“I think it’s just us kind of being able to do what it takes to win and finding out how you do that and what you have to sacrifice,” Brust said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s a talent thing, but leadership-wise, it’s about filling those roles in from guys who left last year.”

The team mindset is about taking the rest of the season in stride and focusing on their goals one game at a time.

“Hey, there’s always a chance for something. We got one game at a time. You can’t go and win four games at once. You gotta win one game and the next game and just keep going from there,” Feldman said.

The Bobcats started the journey back to dominance with a decisive 12-6 victory over Manhattan on April 1. They look to use the victory to kickstart their momentum heading down the stretch.

The team’s goals have not changed from last season to this one. They see themselves as contenders to defend the MAAC title and earn another trip back to the NCAA tournament.

“I think if you ask anyone in the locker room, our goal is the same. Our goal is to still win the MAAC Championship and go to the NCAA tournament, and we’re lucky enough to have the opportunities to still achieve our goals, so we’re just working towards it,” Brust said.