The Quinnipiac men’s soccer team won its first ever NEC Tournament game on Friday afternoon, beating St. Francis (N.Y.) in penalty kicks on The Great Lawn at Monmouth University.
Quinnipiac goalkeeper Freddy Hall saved two penalty shots, while Johann Karlhagen, Durval Pereira, Pierre Soubrier and Shane Recklet each converted on their penalty kicks to win the shootout 4-3.
The Bobcats will play tournament host Monmouth on Sunday in the NEC Tournament championship game.
“This is a huge milestone for our program,” Quinnipiac head coach Eric Da Costa said. “To get to the NEC championship game has been a goal of ours since I walked into the door. We value how difficult it is to get to the Championship game. Now it’s a coin toss, and both teams are going to go out trying to win a championship and get to the NCAA’s. This is a great moment for our guys, and the entire athletics department.”
St. Francis got out to an early first half lead on a goal by junior forward John Sallhag. Semso Nicocevic took the ball down the right side of the field and passed it to the middle. The ball was lost by a Terrier forward but bounced right back to Nicocevic who immediately passed a low ball to the middle of the 18-yard box. Sallhag was the first to the ball and flicked it past Hall.
Midway through the second half the Bobcats tied the game. Pereira crossed a ball from the left side into the middle of the box. Dominic Adams and a couple of Terrier defenders couldn’t catch up to the cross and it carried into the lower right corner of the goal. It was Pereira’s second goal of the season.
With the rain and wind picking up, neither team took many chances. Both overtime periods went by with no major scoring opportunities, and penalty kicks had to decide this game.
The Terriers won the coin toss and elected to shoot first. Hall saved the first and fifth penalty shots to set up Recklet for the game-winner. Recklet, a senior captain, pushed the ball into the bottom-right corner of the net to end the game.
“Freddy is our MVP, he’s been our MVP all year,” Da Costa said. “He’s the heartbeat of our team. The faster his heart beats, the faster the heart of the team beats.”