Men’s lacrosse holds off Manhattan’s offense to win 9-4

Juliana Nikac and Bryan Murphy

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Photo: Liz Flynn

Photo: Liz Flynn

Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse (6-5 overall, 3-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) built off a seven-goal first quarter to defeat the Manhattan Jaspers (3-7 overall, 0-3 MAAC) by a score of 9-5 Saturday afternoon. Junior attack Mike Fletcher led the way for the Bobcats with a hat trick and three assists as well.

“I thought the first half we started pretty well,” Quinnipiac head coach Eric Fekete said. “Second half, we flattened out a little bit. Sometimes we struggle when we get a lead, but 3-0 in the conference is where we want to be.”

The Bobcats built an early lead and never looked back. In the first quarter alone, Quinnipiac fired 19 shot attempts on Manhattan senior goalie Michael Zingaro, scoring a total of seven times. Zingaro was not able to register a single save through the first 15 minutes, as Fletcher scored all three of his goals in the quarter to help the offense of Quinnipiac to a tune of seven goals, while only giving up two.

“I just felt loose,” Fletcher said of his performance. “Honestly, any day I’m out there with these guys, it’s just fun to go out there. You don’t really think about it, it’s just another day.”

After the offensive showcase in the first quarter, it was a defensive battle the rest of the way through. Manhattan outscored the Bobcats in the final 45 minutes by a score of 4-2, but could not climb out of the hole they had dug in the first quarter.

Quinnipiac, on the other hand, seemed to take a step back, as the offense was quieted for the remaining three quarters. But they relied on their dominant first quarter and were able to hold on to win this game 9-5, with junior attack Foster Cuomo tacking on the other two goals to bring his total to a team-leading 22.

“I don’t think we stay as hungry for as long as we need to,” Fekete said. “We seem to jump on people and get early leads. I love my team, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes we lack that killer instinct to keep it pumping. I also felt like our defense was tremendous, so I think sometimes when our defense plays this well, our offense maybe takes their foot off the gas too much, which is something we got to work on.”

The defense was outstanding for the Bobcats. Sophomore goaltender Joe Zukauskas finished the game with 11 saves and limited the Jaspers to only five goals. This was certainly a positive, as the Bobcats had given up double-digit goals in their last four games.

“[Joe’s] been steady,” Fekete said on the play of his goaltender. “I think having the guys around him, Adam Bellamy, Riley Palmer, Mike Ruane, Bryce Nalls; that group has really locked itself down and I thought they had a really good effort. We do a really good job of breaking down matchups and individual matchups. That’s something that we excel at.”

The Bobcats will need their defense to continue to lock down the opposition as it will head into their next matchup against Canisius, the only other team in the MAAC to be undefeated coming into today.

“We’ll enjoy this win today,” Fekete said. “And then we’ll get onto film tomorrow as a staff, and then Monday we’ll get ready to go against Canisius. We’ll just come out and do our business. We’re just trying to win one game at a time and that’s how we’ve always done our business.”

Quinnipiac and the Golden Griffins of Canisius will square off Saturday, April 14 at 3 p.m. in Hamden for the Bobcats final home game of the season.