The loss of Kirsten van de Ven appears insurmountable on paper. After all, last year’s NEC Player of the Year scored nearly half of Quinnipiac’s goals as a freshman.
But even with van de Ven transferring to Florida State University, women’s soccer head coach Dave Clarke says that the Bobcats can be just as successful as last season, when Quinnipiac returned to the NEC playoffs for the first time in three years.
“While I didn’t want to lose her, the irony is that it’s actually made us a better team,” Clarke said. “Her style of play and the role that she played on the team meant that we were always vulnerable defensively. Without her, we’re stronger defensively.”
Replacing van de Ven’s 12 goals will be a daunting task, especially since the rest of the team’s combined score was just 15. The Dutch midfielder also led the Bobcats in assists, points, shots, and shots-on-goal.
In order to match last season’s 5-2-2 conference record and return to the NEC playoffs for the second straight season, Quinnipiac will need a more balanced scoring attack.
“The players now know that it has to be a team effort and not one individual,” Clarke said.
The Bobcats have a month to play as a team before opening its NEC schedule on Sept. 30 against Wagner. Quinnipiac begins the season with 10 consecutive non-conference games, most of which are played against upper-tier teams. Since it is difficult to convince those teams to come to Quinnipiac, the Bobcats are forced to play all but three of those games on the road.
“I do try to go away, home, away, but you just have to schedule the games with the top-tier schools first,” Clarke said.
Non-conference games serve as a tune-up to NEC play, helping to show which areas the team needs to improve on. Losing the games does not hurt Quinnipiac since its post season fate is determined by its NEC record.
This season, Quinnipiac is off to a 2-1 start, including a 1-0 win at Columbia on Sept. 2 that marked the Bobcats’ first win in program history against an ECAC women’s soccer team. Sophomore University of Maryland transfer Kelly Dormandy scored the only goal in the 56th minute of play.
“(When) you’re playing stronger opposition and you have success against them, it builds confidence for the conference games,” Clarke said.
The Bobcats defeated St. Peter’s, 4-1, in its season opener and was blanked 2-0 by St. John’s in its third game of the season. Quinnipiac plays its first home games of the year this weekend when its host Fordham on Friday at 3 p.m. and Holy Cross on Sunday at 1 p.m.