The Bobcats made it to the conference championship game for the first time in program history, and in the end, came up just short of their ultimate goal.
The Quinnipiac men’s soccer team lost 2-1 on Sunday afternoon in the NEC Tournament championship game to the No. 1 Monmouth Hawks at the Great Lawn in West Long Branch, N.J.
Junior Chase Barbier and NEC Player of the Year Ryan Kinne scored for Monmouth, while senior co-captain Shane Recklet scored the Bobcats’ lone goal.
“We had a chance to win this game throughout the entire 90 minutes,” Quinnipiac head coach Eric Da Costa said. “We lost to a good team and they are a great representative of the conference. They are a top-10 team in the country, and we were right there, battling with them for 90 minutes.”
After a scoreless first half, Monmouth came out of halftime pushing for the opening goal. Freshman Ryan Clarke crossed a ball into the 18-yard box from the left side to Barbier in the 51st minute. Barbier out-jumped a couple of Bobcat defenders, and headed the ball into the top right corner of the goal, beating an outstretched Freddy Hall.
Just four minutes later, Kinne helped Monmouth double their lead. Sophomore midfielder RJ Allen curved a free kick from the right side into the box to Kinne, who headed the ball into the bottom right corner of the net. Kinne was later named to the All-Tournament team, Allen was credited with the assist, and was later named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
But the Bobcats bounced back.
Sophomore defender Conor Murphy collected a rebound on the left side and crossed it into the box in the 61st minute, headed for Recklet. A wet field caused a couple of defenders to slip, and the ball dropped in front of Recklet’s feet. The senior captain kept his patience and pushed the ball passed Monmouth goalkeeper Bryan Meredith.
Juniors Nick Pelicaen, Johan Karlhagen and Pierre Soubrier all had chances in the final 30 minutes to tie the game.
Perhaps the best chance came in the final 10 minutes, as Soubrier lined up a free kick from just outside the box. He circled it around Monmouth’s wall of defenders but the ball sailed just over the crossbar.
“Our team was right on their heels at all times and we were never intimidated,” Da Costa said. “That’s how finals go, and it is a credit to how hard they worked today, but I am very proud of this team.”