HAMDEN, Conn. Todd Kaiser (Summit, N.J.) scored four goals and added two assists, while Kevin Benzing (Severna Park, Md.) made 16 saves as the Quinnipiac University men's lacrosse team came from behind to defeat No. 19 Denver, 11-10, Saturday afternoon at the Quinnipiac Field Hockey & Lacrosse Turf Field. The Bobcats erased a 6-3 halftime deficit with eight of the next nine goals, covering the first 24 minutes of the second half, to earn their first win against a nationally-ranked team in program history. With the win, the Bobcats improve to 3-6 (1-2 GWLL), while the Pioneers fall to 6-5 (1-1 GWLL).
"It's been a long wait to beat a Top 20 team," said Head Coach Eric Fekete. "It's great for the direction of our team to get over this hump."
Benzing (3-6) earned the win for the Bobcats, while the Pioneers' Zander Buteux made four saves and allowed six goals in taking the loss. Peter Lowell started the game for Denver, but left due to injury in the second quarter. He made one save and allowed two Quinnipiac goals in nearly 22 minutes of action. Peyton Tyrie replaced Buteux for the final 13:29 of the fourth quarter, making one save while allowing three goals.
In addition to Kaiser's four goals, Gary Messina (West Islip, N.Y.), Alex DeAlmeida (Point Pleasant, N.J.), Jack Oppenheimer (Conshohocken, Pa.), Garett Kerr (Inglewood, Ontario), Kevin Kelly (Redding, Conn.), Jim Gianfelice (Wilbraham, Mass.) and Zach Dendas (Branford, Conn.) scored once each. Messina joined Kaiser with two assists, while DeAlmeida, Kerr, Oppenheimer and Ted Dimond (Marblehead, Mass.) also had one each.
Cliff Smith, Joey Murray, Patrick Rogers and Todd Baxter scored twice each for Denver, while Alex Gajic and John Dickenson both scored once. Gajic, Murray and Smith also added one assist apiece.
After falling behind, 6-3, at the halftime break, Kaiser played a part in four straight Quinnipiac goals to give the Bobcats their first lead of the game, 7-6, by the end of the third quarter. Kaiser fed Kelly to open the second-half scoring at the 9:33 mark of the third, before helping Messina to a marker at the 6:14 mark. Kaiser then scored two of his own with 2:59 and 14 seconds left, respectively. Kaiser's first goal in the span was unassisted, while Messina returned the favor on the next.
The Bobcats extended the lead to its high point, 11-7, with four of the first five goals in the fourth quarter. Gianfelice got things started, ripping a shot from 15 yards out in front of the net off an Oppenheimer assist just a minute and a half into the fourth.
After Murray broke the Bobcats' 5-0 run with an unassisted goal to cut the deficit to 8-7 with 12:07 left in regulation, DeAlmeida scored a highlight-reel goal to reestablish the two-goal advantage. DeAlmeida wrapped around the back of the net, moving from right to left. He then left his feet and flicked it inside the right post while in mid air past Tyrie.
Kaiser and Messina connected once again with 8:20 remaining as Messina helped Kaiser to his fourth goal of the game. The 8-1 run concluded on Oppenheimer's team-leading 12th goal of the year off a DeAlmeida assist, giving the Bobcats an 11-7 advantage.
Denver mounted a furious comeback in the final two minutes, as Rogers scored twice within 34 seconds. Rogers first took a Smith pass and deposited it in the back of the net at the 1:33 mark. He then scored with a delayed penalty coming with 59 seconds left. Just 13 seconds later, Smith scored on the man-up opportunity to cut the deficit to one.
Denver threatened in the final seconds, winning the face-off following Smith's goal, but couldn't find the back of the net. Benzing stopped a Dickenson shot for his 16th save of the day before Baxter hit Benzing with an illegal body check with four seconds left, effectively ending the game.
For the game, the Bobcats took a 39-36 edge in ground balls. The Pioneers took a 39-32 advantage in shots, as well as a 14-9 edge in face-offs. Denver scored on three-of-four man-up opportunities. The Bobcats scored twice on four opportunities, though the last chance came with four seconds remaining and Quinnipiac content to run out the clock.
The Bobcats return to action April 11, when they welcome intrastate foe Sacred Heart to the Quinnipiac Field Hockey & Lacrosse Turf Field. Opening face-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.