A 6-10-3 season, including a record of 2-6-1 in the conference, usually isn’t reason for optimism. The Bobcats, who only scored 21 goals this year, will lose five seniors including their leading goal scorer, Leandra Price, who accounted for a third of the balls that reached the back of the net.
However, Quinnipiac will have eight returning starters, six of whom are currently sophomores and still have time for improvement. With an incoming freshman class that head coach David Clarke says will help right away, the women’s soccer team has reason to be excited.
The 2005 season started off on the right foot with road wins at St. Peter’s and Columbia. The Bobcats entered conference play with a respectable 4-4 record, and then won their conference opener with a 2-1 victory over Wagner.
However, the season started to slip away from Quinnipiac as it was unable to generate any consistent offense. The Bobcats were shutout in seven of their last eight games, with the exception being a 5-2 win over Robert Morris in which Price scored four goals. The Bobcats ranked last in the NEC in shots on net and ninth in goals scored per game. Quinnipiac was also 0-10-1 when allowing the first goal.
“I was disappointed in our record because I expected us to be above .500,” Clarke said. However, I was very happy with the level of our play in most games and I feel that we showed at times that we were a good team.”
Experience will be very useful to a team that played a lot of underclassmen this season. Sophomore Leisl Lissfelt, who tied for the team lead in points, will return to the midfield along with sophomore Kate Ahearn, who missed all but two games this season with a stress fracture in her foot.
“It was very hard going to practice every day and being at every game watching how hard the girls wanted it, but not being able to help out,” Ahearn said. “We are pretty talented, and if we take the same approach that we did this year into next year and avoid injuries we’ll be fine.”
Ahearn was third on the team in points her freshman year, and Clarke says her addition along with getting Danielle Kim back from injuries will be like having two new signings.
Quinnipiac will also have 10 of the 12 players who registered points this year back in 2006. Sophomore Brittany Lockwood led the team with six assists, and junior Jen Hirsch tied for third on the team with two goals. Junior goalkeeper Sarah Lusto, who played in almost every game this season, will also return.
“Obviously this season wasn’t what we expected,” said Lissfelt. “But next year we’ll have Kate [Ahearn] back and other people coming back, so I think we’ll be OK.”
Clarke is looking to Lissfelt or Ahearn to step up as leaders next year due to the loss of senior starting midfielders Cristina Salamone and Ashley Lockwood. However, Quinnipiac’s team chemistry was better this season and according to the players, they are ready to step up and try to reach their goal next year.
“It’s going to be a little weird at first, because we always looked to the seniors to help make decisions,” Ahearn said. “But now we are going to have to be the ones deciding what to do on the field.”
The 2006 Bobcats should be better record wise than this year’s team. Clarke hopes to reestablish a winning mentality in the women’s soccer program.
“Our goal in the NEC is to make the playoffs,” Clarke said. “And it is a very realistic target if we play to our potential and score goals on a regular basis.”