Men’s soccer struggling to find its stride

Men’s soccer struggling to find its stride

Conor Roche

Quinnipiac men’s soccer has finished in the top two spots of its conference every season since 2012. That period of success includes two first-place regular season finishes, and a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament Finals win in 2013.

But so far in 2015, things have been different. The Bobcats are 1-8-4 this season. Their first win didn’t come until October 14, earning a 2-0 victory on the road against Manhattan.

The Bobcats only have five points in the conference heading into their final four games of MAAC play. How did the Bobcats go from being a top team in the MAAC, to one of the bottom three teams in just one year?

Following the 2014 season, Quinnipiac lost two-time MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year Borja Angoitia, as well as its two leading scorers, forward Machel Baker and midfielder Raphael Carvalho. All three graduated at the end of the 2014 tilt.

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Junior midfielder James Doig, who recorded the third-most points for the Bobcats last season, has also only played three games this season due to injury.

Quinnipiac head coach Eric Da Costa, however, believes the offensive struggles are due to a lack of execution.

“It’s been the frustration,” Da Costa said. “It’s not necessarily a lack of offensive production it’s more just more of that frustration and not capitalizing on the chances we’re creating.”

Da Costa, who is in his 11th season with Quinnipiac, thinks that because of the missed opportunities, the team is lacking confidence to make the right plays.

“It becomes a little bit of confidence, it becomes inexperience,” Da Costa said. “We have some young players in our offensive positions who are learning and growing as the season goes on and when you’re not getting the results and you’ve created the chances and you’re not putting them away, frustration and anxiety sets in and you start to overthink things.”

Da Costa believes he is at fault for the team’s struggles this year, as well.

“I take all of the responsibility. I’m the coach of the team, I’m the leader of the group,” Da Costa said. “When we play well, the players are doing their jobs and when we don’t, myself and the staff has to do a better job.”

Senior defender Tobias Esche takes some responsibility to the lack of offense, although he plays defense.

“Everyone can score,” Esche said. “Scoring starts from the back. If we start to play slow, it’s difficult for the forwards to get on the ball, we don’t always get the ball there. It’s a responsibility for all of the players to score.”

Esche believes the big thing holding the team back is that they haven’t been able to put up a complete performance.

“Many times we’ve played well, but one, two, three, four, five minutes, there were just out-of-place individuals making mistakes,” Esche said. “We haven’t been able to put in 90 minutes as a whole performance.”

Although the Bobcats have had a rough season, Da Costa wouldn’t consider the season a failure just yet.

“[We’re] slowly progressing,” he said. “I think we’ve done a lot of really good things. Unfortunately the record doesn’t reflect that…but I think we’re all smart enough and objective enough to know that we’ve been playing some good soccer, we’ve done some good things at times.”

Esche echoed his coach’s sentiments, even though this is the team’s worst season in his four years at Quinnipiac.

“I’m definitely not disappointed in the team,” Esche said. “We do everything we can in practice and the games. It’s not that we’re not a good team. Obviously we’re disappointed by the results, but you can’t look back at what happened. You have look forward to what’s happening.”

Although the season hasn’t been successful, Da Costa believes this season still has some meaning for some players.

“This is really important for [the non-seniors], you don’t know what it takes to win unless you’ve lost,” he said.

And more importantly, Da Costa still thinks Quinnipiac has a chance in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament at the end of the season. All 11 teams make the tournament, which is scheduled to take place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida from Nov. 5-9, regardless of their records.

“We can beat anybody” Da Costa said. “We’ve proven we can compete against some of the better teams in the country. The fact that we’re going to Disney for an 11-team playoff and everyone has a chance at it, I’ll take those odds with this group any day.”

The Bobcats close the season out with games at home against Fairfield and Iona, and then go on the road against Siena and Rider before the postseason tilt.