In the past two seasons, the Quinnipiac field hockey team found itself in the playoffs only to lose in the first round. This season, Quinnipiac aims to break that trend.
The Bobcats sport an identical overall record to last season at 12-6 going into the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference field hockey semifinals.
Hosted by No. 1 seed Rider, competition begins for Quinnipiac on Nov. 8 in Lawrence Township, N.J., when the No. 2 seed Bobcats take on third-seeded Bryant. The winner will go on to face the victor of the bout between Rider and Robert Morris.
The last meeting between the Bobcats and Bulldogs came on Nov. 1, in a 1-0 overtime Quinnipiac win. Amanda Danziger notched the game-winning goal after 82 scoreless minutes. In the past four seasons, the two teams have a split record against each other at 2-2, yet the Bobcats have won the last two meetings.
Rider, with the top seed in the championship, defeated Quinnipiac 2-1 on Oct. 25 for the team’s only conference loss on the season. One week prior, Robert Morris, the fourth seed, paid an unfortunate visit to Hamden as it was shut down 3-0 by the Bobcats.
Statistically, the Bobcats have had the upper hand on their opponents. Even in losses, they have found a way to put at least one goal on the board, and have only been shut out once by Old Dominion, 7-0. Against Bryant, the team has shown a definite advantage over their opponent in goals and assists at 50-31 and 48-30, with an overall points lead of 148-92.
Senior Jess Rusin has been the undoubted leader for the Bobcats. Her 15 goals are seven more than her next closest teammate, senior Jennalise Taylor. Earlier this season, Rusin etched herself in the record books with her excellent play. She sits seventh all-time career in goals with 23 and her 55 points are also good for seventh, as well.
Along with Taylor, the two make up more than one third of the points with Rusin at 35 and Taylor at 23. Their offensive impact will be a deciding factor against the Bulldogs.
In addition, the Quinnipiac defense will have to lock down Bryant junior forward Rosie Bird if it wants any chance of moving on to the next round. A dynamic offensive talent, Bird leads the team with 12 goals and 31 points and is second among her teammates with seven assists.
Other threats to the Bobcat chances of victory include the playmaking senior forward Mallory Hancock with her team leading nine assists and senior Olivia Jenkins who is second on the team with six scores.
In net, Bryant holds a slight advantage but Quinnipiac is not far off. Senior Megan Hancock of Bryant brings with her to the semifinals 125 saves, a .776 save percentage and a 1.99 goals against average. Junior goalkeeper Megan Conaboy has only slightly underperformed with 117 saves, a save percentage of .760, and a .204 goals against average.
The Bobcats have proven themselves a worthy contender in the new conference in just their first season as a part of the MAAC. The team has been in this position before and it is poised for success if all the pieces fall into place.