Mount Hands Bobcats First League Loss
By Zach Smart
If their 9-6 come-from-behind victory over Central Connecticut served as any indication, the Quinnipiac women’s lacrosse team is a second half team.
On April 5, the Bobcats took on Northeast Conference foe Mount St. Mary’s, 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 simply wasn’t enough. The defensive-minded Mountaineers held off a late rally, outlasting Quinnipiac by a score of 9-8 to gain sole possession of first place.
It was the program’s first home loss since nearly a year ago, when Monmouth handed them a 12-11 overtime loss back on April 7, 2006.
“We tend to be more of a put-together team in the second half,” explained sophomore middie Tiffany Manzi, who had two goals to help the Bobcats claw back from a five-goal defecit in the second half.
“We came back with a lot more fire (in the second). Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time (to send the game into overtime).”
Down 8-4 in a first half that featured a dominant defensive performance by the Mountaineers and goalie Jane Karger (6-for-10 on saves in the first half), the Bobcats outscored the Mount 4-1 in a high-octane second half.
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 and sliced the lead to one.
The Bobcats, however, were never able to deadlock 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,” explained 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 re-gained the momentum as a shot from Breana Waraksa with 15:50 remaining fueled a 6-1 surge.
What did coach Danie Caro and company tell her players after the frustrating first half?
“We basically told them, ‘it’s our field to defend. It’s your choice whether you’re going to defend it or not.”’
The Bobcats were a different team from that moment on.
A win would have allowed the Bobcats to establish a pair of school records with five consecutive wins and sixth consecutive home wins.
Pantelides said the team won’t dwell on it.
“We weren’t playing for any records,” she explained. “There’s more big games to go. Right now its anyone’s conference.”
The ‘Cats will look to avenge the loss if the two teams are to meet again in the playoffs. The game might have been a preview of this year’s NEC championship.
“We got a feel for their style of play and hopefully we’ll be able to read them better (if we meet again),” said Manzi.