May 6, 2011

Furious Comeback, Double-Overtime Man-Down Goal Send Men's Lacrosse Past Robert Morris, Into NEC Championship

Photos of NEC Semi-Finals vs. Robert Morris

EMMITSBURG, Md. - Jack Oppenheimer (Conshohocken, Pa.) scored five goals, including a natural hat trick in the final 2:50 of regulation, and Christian Haggerty (West Nyack, N.Y.) scored a man-down goal in double overtime as the No. 2 Quinnipiac University men's lacrosse team defeated third-seeded Robert Morris, 12-11, in the Northeast Conference Tournament Semifinals Friday afternoon at Waldron Family Stadium on the campus of Mount St. Mary's University. The Bobcats move on to Sunday's 1 p.m. NEC Championship Game against the winner of tonight's contest between top-seeded Mount St. Mary's and fourth-seeded Bryant.

Trailing 11-8 with less than three minutes left in regulation, Oppenheimer ripped a shot at the 2:50 mark off a Haggerty assist to cut the deficit to two goals. With 1:35 left in regulation, Jake Glebocki (Wilbraham, Mass.) streaked down field off a clear and found Oppenheimer at the right post before the latter bounced it past Robert Morris goalie Charles Ruppert to make it an 11-10 game.

Robert Morris won the ensuing face-off and managed to milk the clock down to 20 seconds before Bobcats senior goalie Kevin Benzing (Severna Park, Md.) came out of the net to force a turnover and lead the Quinnipiac break. Matt Minor's (South Hadley, Mass.) shot went wide with nine seconds left, before Quinnipiac Head Coach Eric Fekete called timeout. Out of the timeout, Oppenheimer muscled his way to the doorstep before going low to beat Ruppert and send the game to overtime.

In the first extra session, Benzing stood on his head, making five saves, including many from close range. As time expired on the first overtime, the Bobcats were called for an offside penalty, giving Robert Morris a 30-second extra-man opportunity. But the Colonials turned the ball over, Jay Binkowski (Bethany, Conn.) picked up the ground ball, evaded two defenders, streaked upfield and fed Haggerty. The senior then ripped a shot from 15 yards out to clinch the victory.    

Oppenheimer led the Bobcats with five goals and an assist, while Haggerty had two goals and two assists. Kevin Kelly (Redding, Conn.) had two goals and an assist, while Basil Kostaras (Southlake, Texas) added a goal and two assists. Jake Emms (Victoria, British Columbia) and Mike Gast (Grand Rapids, Mich.) scored once each, while Billy Alessi (Branford, Conn.), Glebocki and Jay Binkowski (Bethany, Conn.) chipped in with one assist apiece. Bobby Schnibbe (Duxbury, Mass.) led the Bobcats' defense with four caused turnovers.

Corbyn Tao-Brambleby and Kiel Matisz led Robert Morris with three goals each. Matisz also added an assist. Patrick Smith added two goals and an assist, while two-time NEC Player of the Year Trevor Moore also had two goals. Kyle Buchanan chipped in with a goal and an assist, while Tyler Digby had two assists.

Benzing made 13 saves on 24 opportunities for the Bobcats to take the win, while Ruppert made six saves on 18 chances in defeat.

After Robert Morris scored the first goal of the game, the Bobcats responded with four out of the next five goals to establish a 4-2 advantage. Moore cut the deficit to one goal off a Smith assist with 10:44 left in the second quarter, but the Bobcats scored three of the next four goals to lead, 7-4. The two teams exchanged the next two goals to leave the Quinnipiac advantage at three, 8-5. Moore scored off a Matisz assist to close the first half scoring and send the Bobcats to the locker room leading, 8-6.

Robert Morris then reeled off five more goals to start the second half to turn a three-goal deficit into a three-goal lead. The last goal came from Matisz at the 5:17 mark of the fourth quarter, as Benzing had left the net to defend a Colonials attacker.