The Quinnipiac men’s soccer team remained undefeated at home after picking up a pair of pivotal victories over Columbia University Lions and Manhattan College this past weekend.
Dating back to last season, the Bobcats have won a record nine straight games at home.
The Bobcats now stand at 3-4 overall, with all of their victories coming at home this season.
The team battled through a game of twists and turns to double up Columbia on Sept. 22.
In the 79th minute of play, senior Jadir Barbosa received a swift centering pass from freshman Graciano Brito, one goal, one assist, and saw an opening. The Bobcat forward’s strike found the back of the net, extending Quinnipiac’s lead to 4-2, the game’s final score.
Barbosa’s insurance goal produced loud uproars from the home crowd and it put the finishing touches on what first-year head coach Eric De Costa described as a hard-fought afternoon.
“I think our work ethic is what won us this game,” Da Costa said.
“We employed a bit of a different strategy. We switched our system of play a little bit to a 4-3-3, and we really didn’t work on it until yesterday. So, for the guys to buy into it, and really work hard and execute it, that showed a lot of character on their part.”
The Lions outshot the ‘Cats by a 20-12 margin and held a 9-2 edge in corner kicks, but the visitors from New York City couldn’t finish.
Senior keeper Ken Lewis made sure nothing eluded his grasp. Lewis collected six saves, a few at point-blank range, to pick up the well-earned victory.
The ‘Cats came out on all cylinders, with forwards Francis Mavula and Alex Achigbu jetting the ball up field.
Quinnipiac struck first at 7:47 as Brito scored a goal on his own rebound. The goal was the talented newcomer’s third of the season.
Shouts of “zero-zero” resounded from the Bobcat bench shortly afterward as the team encouraged the defense to play as if the score was still 0-0 and not get comfortable with the early lead.
The Bobcats did just that, as they kept the defensive pressure high and stifled Columbia’s attacks.
However, Chris Wales converted on a penalty shot for Columbia to tie the score at one a piece.
The Bobcats were quick to retaliate.
Just over a minute later, Lassana Camara, like Brito had done previously, scored on a rebound of his own shot attempt and the Bobcats regained the lead.
During the 69th minute, the Bobcats extended their lead to 3-1 after a 25-yard strike by Mavula.
Mavula’s insurance goal marked the junior forward’s first of the season.
The Lions did all they could to keep the game close. A goal by James Pounder, which came off a block by a Bobcat defender, from the left side trimmed the Bobcats’ lead to one in the game’s 75th minute.
But the Bobcat defenders – Aldin Beslagic, Joe Caternor and Ben Forst to name a few – locked up and sealed off the Columbia midfielders for the ensuing four minutes.
A strong slide tackle by Nicolae Popescu, whose aggressiveness aided the Bobcats throughout the afternoon, kept the lead intact as Quinnipiac regained possession.
Barbosa’s goal in the 79th minute put the game out of reach for the Lions and the Bobcats prevailed.
After the game, De Costa credited his athletes for their effort.
“It got close for a while, especially with that questionable penalty kick, but these guys are classy, you know, they have a lot of character, they showed it through today that’s for sure,” Da Costa said.
The Bobcats picked up where they left off Sept. 24, outlasting the struggling Manhattan Jaspers (0-8-0) by a score of 2-1 in front of a jam-packed parents’ weekend crowd.
The Jaspers scored first after Kevin Martin slipped through the defense to net the Jaspers’ lone goal of the afternoon.
The Bobcats answered back right away to tie the score at 1-1. The speedy Camara quickly found the net thanks to a sweet look from Brito, who centered the ball directly to him.
The Bobcats scored the lone second-half goal when Brito’s shot (which came off an indirect kick from Popescu) sailed past the overstretched arms of Manhattan keeper David Mires (seven saves).
Lewis made four saves and the ‘Cats outshot the Jaspers, 18-8.
The ‘Cats will look for their first road victory on Oct. 1, when they travel to Kingston, R.I., to face the University of Rhode Island.