If its comeback victory over Central Connecticut in late March served as any indication, the Quinnipiac women’s lacrosse team is a second-half team.
The Bobcats (7-4, 5-1 NEC) fell to Northeast Conference-foe Mount St. Mary’s, 9-8, Thursday as the league’s two undefeated teams engaged in a rock fight for mid-season supremacy.
Once again, it was a tale of two halves. This time, the Bobcats’ second-half surge wasn’t enough. The defensive-minded Mountaineers (5-6, 5-0 NEC) held off a late rally, outlasting Quinnipiac to gain sole possession of first place.
It was the program’s first home loss in nearly a year. Monmouth handed Quinnipiac a 12-11 overtime loss April 7, 2006.
“We tend to be more of a put-together team in the second half,” said sophomore midfielder Tiffany Manzi, who had two goals in the game.
“We came back with a lot more fire [in the second]. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time [to send the game into overtime].”
After the Mount’s Katelyn Catenese ripped a shot past goalkeeper Hannah Nelson, Quinnipiac’s Katy Delagi found the back of the net to jump-start a 3-0 run.
The junior from New York would conclude this run with a nifty move and shot from the far corner to make it 9-7 with 14:22 remaining. With the shot, Delagi moved up to ninth on the program’s all-time scoring list.
The Bobcats tacked on another goal 90 seconds later as Meghan Latonick found a cutting Manzi, who deposited one past Karger, slicing the Mount’s lead to one.
The Bobcats, however, were never able to tie it as a stingy defense led by Jacqui Ricca (game-high eight groundballs) stifled several dangerous attacks.
Ricca instigated her sixth and most important turnover of the game when she stripped midfielder Janelle Lopez during the Bobcats’ free position attempt in the game’s final minute.
“We’re a team that likes to respond,” said senior defender and captain Sophia Pantelides of the Bobcats’ comeback bid. “The first half was really intense. We had some good saves, our defense was playing well. We just needed to finish shots.”
The Mount came out firing, scoring the game’s first three goals 6:08 into the frame. The Bobcats were quick to answer.
Nicole Fiore worked an angle, bouncing a shot past Karger on a free-position attempt as the Bobcats concluded a 3-0 surge of their own.
The Mount regained the momentum as a shot from Breana Waraksa with 15:50 remaining fueled a 6-1 surge.
“We basically told them, ‘it’s our field to defend. It’s your choice whether you’re going to defend it or not,”’ head coach Danie Caro said.
The Bobcats were a different team from that point on.
A win would have given the Bobcats, which bounced back with a 9-5 win over Wagner at home Saturday, five consecutive wins and six consecutive home wins.
“We weren’t playing for any records,” Pantelides said. “There’s more big games to go. Right now it’s anyone’s conference.”
Manzi said: “We got a feel for their style of play and hopefully we’ll be able to read them better [if we meet again].”
Their next meeting might just be in the NEC tournament.