Men’s soccer falls in NEC’s

Lenny Neslin

All good things must come to an end, as the Quinnipiac Bobcats men’s soccer team was eliminated from the NEC Playoffs by the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, losing 2-0 on Nov. 14. This loss caps the careers for Bobcat seniors Ryan Smith and Graciano Brito. It was also the first playoff game either has played in all of college – the Bobcats last playoff appearance was in 2004.

Junior forward and NEC Tournament Most Valuable Player, Samson Malijani gave the Knights an early 1-0 lead on a goal in the 14th minute – his 15th of the year. Junior defender Serge Zulu passed it in the box to Malijani, who faked left, then went right, opening him up for a shot that sailed in the upper right corner of the goal. Bobcats goalie junior Freddy Hall had no chance to block it. This goal ended Hall’s shutout streak of over 369 minutes of play, dating back to Oct. 31.

The Bobcats had plenty of possible scoring chances in the game, including the 49th minute when freshman Durval Pereira shot a one-timer, but missing just wide. Sophomore defender Pierre Soubrier fired a hard, low shot from just outside the box in the 57th minute, but Knights junior goalie Majdi Zaineh made a diving stop, one of his six saves for the game.

The Knights added on an insurance goal from Zulu, assisted by junior midfielder Fernando Huthmacher in the 80th minute. On a free kick, Huthmacher crossed it to Zulu, who one-timed it in the lower left corner.

The Bobcats played the last ten minutes of their season with full-intensity – leaving everything on the field. Everyone hustled for loose balls and took open-shots. Brito took his final shot as a Bobcat in the 86th minute. He turned on a dime near the box, and booted a very hard shot toward the goal, but Zaineh blocked it away.

The game was played in rain and fog, with players slipping on the wet field occasionally. It was especially muddy around the goals, as shown by Hall who vented frustration by kicking the wet mud.
Fairleigh Dickinson went on to beat Mount St. Mary’s 7-2 on Nov. 16, earning their sixth NEC Championship. The Knights won four consecutive NEC titles from 2000-2003.