Men’s soccer sits atop NEC after tie

Robin Schuppert

Quinnipiac senior men’s soccer goalkeepers Freddy Hall and Alexander Rousselle, along with midfielders Kevin Nunes and Shane Recklet, didn’t win their final regular season home game. But by the end of the day, the team had taken a huge step toward a greater goal.

The men’s soccer team tied St. Francis (N.Y.) 1-1 in its final regular season home game at the Quinnipiac Soccer Field, moving the Bobcats into sole possession of first place in the NEC with 17 points, one ahead of Monmouth and St. Francis (N.Y.). All three teams have three games remaining in the regular season.

“I think both of us are walking away from here happy with the results,” head coach Eric Da Costa said. “Not that both teams played for a tie. Each team is going out looking to win to create some space between second and third place. It was a hard fought game, and St. Francis is a very good team.”

The Bobcats got on the board first with a goal in the 18th minute from junior defenseman Tolle Staffanson. Freshman Philip Suprise corralled a rebound, turned around and saw Staffanson wide open in front of the net. Staffanson jammed the ball into the top left corner with his left foot for the 1-0 lead. It was Staffanson’s first career goal, making him the seventh different player this season to have scored his first career goal. Suprise picked up his second assist of the year, and now leads the team with 14 points this season.

Both teams came out much more aggressively in the second half. The Terriers controlled the ball and had some chances to tie the game early on. Robbie Weir had the equalizer on his foot, but was stopped by Hall in the 69th minute. A St. Francis throw-in from the left side fell right at the feet of Weir. Weir didn’t let the ball bounce and shot a hard hit ball into the lower-left corner of the goal. Hall dove and made a tremendous save to keep his team in front.

It was Nick Baum who finally beat Hall and tied the score at 1-1 in the 86th minute. St. Francis defenseman Anthony Matos headed a cross into the middle of the box, trying to find Baum. Hall tried to dive for the cross and lost his footing, so Baum simply tapped the ball into the lower-left corner for the equalizer.

“On a dry field, he probably would have made that save,” Da Costa said. “The field was borderline unplayable for both teams; both teams adjusted well and the players did the best they could.”

It was the first NEC regular season goal Hall has given up since Oct. 31, 2008 – a span of 1,030 consecutive minutes.

For the sixth time this season, the Bobcats had to go into overtime. The Bobcats outplayed St. Francis in both overtime periods, outshooting them 8-3, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

In the first overtime it was Staffanson who could have ended the game. With four minutes left in the period, Durval Pereira passed a corner to Carl Stensland, who lobbed it to a wide open Staffanson. Staffanson headed the ball toward the right side of the goal, but a great save from Chris Antonino preserved the tie.

The Bobcats recorded 25 shots in the game, while St. Francis had 26. Pereira and Semso Nikocevic led all players with six shots.

Hall finished the game for the Bobcats with seven saves. His counterpart, Antonino finished the game with 10 saves.

The Bobcats now stand at 8-1-6 overall and 5-0-2 NEC.

This weekend the Bobcats will hit the road to play Mount St. Mary’s on Friday at 7 p.m. and Monmouth on Sunday at 1 p.m. Mount St. Mary’s is currently tied for fourth place in the NEC with 10 points, while Monmouth is tied for second with 16 points. Currently, Monmouth is ranked seventh in the nation.