Men’s lax drops GWLL opener

Zach Smart

The Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse team has been thirsting for a chance to pick up a marquee victory ever since moving to its new turf field in 2006.

A win of this magnitude, against a top-tier program like Denver, a team that shellacked the Bobcats the last time the two teams met, would have done more than just avenge an ugly loss.

It would have altered the perception of a once-ailing program while providing an injection of confidence as the Bobcats prepare for the meat of their Great Western Lacrosse League schedule.

Quinnipiac was handed its third loss of the season, though, as Denver grinded out a 10-9 road victory Saturday afternoon. It was the first conference game of the year. The loss puts the Bobcats at an even .500 on the season.

As the Bobcats came roaring back from a 10-6 deficit in the fourth stanza, it looked as if they might get their wish.

A 3-0 spurt capped by a Mike Gast goal off an assist from Mike Stottler pulled the Bobcats within one with 13:59 remaining.

The Bobcats, however, couldn’t piece together a strong final possession and set up a goal to deadlock it. With time winding down, Quinnipiac couldn’t step up and attack the net with the game on the line.

“It’s frustrating,” said junior goalie and vocal leader Roger Fish, who had a game-high 14 saves while allowing 10 goals during all 60 minutes in net.

“You lose a game by one goal, it’s tough to think about. But let’s not forget we played a really good team. We believe we’re a really good team. It may be a surprise that we lost by one to a lot of people but it’s certainly not a surprise to us. We knew that we could give these guys all they could handle and we think we did.”

Last year, the Bobcats flew out to Colorado and the high-altitude state provided little breathing room for them. The Bobcats lost handily, 17-8.

It was part of the rude awakening that comes with jumping from the bottom of the America East conference to the GWLL.

Senior Mike Stottler, who’s emerged as the go-to-guy after being sidelined for the entire 2006 campaign with injury, had three goals and two assists to lead all scorers.

Stottler’s two assists came during the ‘Cats comeback-bid early in the fourth, as he found Gast for back-to-back goals. Gast, a freshman from Michigan, fired two shots past Austin Konkel (9 saves, 9 GA) as the momentum see-saw fell to the Bobcats’ side.

Denver was able to permeate the teeth of the Quinnipiac defense early, but the Bobcats recovered.

“Coach had talked with us all week about momentum, how you can go up and you can go down,” Fish said.

“We scored three goals in under five minutes I think and they did the same, but we never thought the game was out of reach.”

Quinnipiac meets Ohio State in Columbus Saturday.

Fish, who is from that area, says the confidence level hasn’t faltered after the loss.

“We’re at a point where we feel we should win [against top-shelf teams],” Fish said. “We have that confidence.”