The Quinnipiac men’s soccer team battled well against North Carolina on Sept. 12, but three second half goals pushed the Tar Heels, ranked No. 5 in the nation, past the Bobcats 4-0.
“I thought we played them pretty tough for 70 minutes. We played them pretty evenly. We were real disciplined,” Quinnipiac head coach Eric Da Costa said.
Michael Callahan netted two second-half goals in a span of six minutes for North Carolina to put the game out of reach.
In the first half, Michael Harrington beat Quinnipiac goalkeeper Paul Fleck to give UNC a 1-0 lead. Scott Campbell and Brian Shriver had two assists each, including a nifty setup to Harrington for the first goal.
Ben Hunter, who also had an assist in the game, recorded the final goal of the match with 4:31 remaining in the second half.
Despite the 4-0 result, Da Costa was pleased with his team’s performance. He also believes the team gained invaluable experience from the trip.
“It was a great learning experience for everybody. I was able to get a lot of guys in the game so they could all see what it is like to compete against the nation’s elite,” he said.
Co-captain Francis Mavula gained a lot from the team’s game against the ACC’s best team.
“We were able to see what the next level is like. We watched how they prepare for games and their overall commitment,” he said. “We hung in there for a half, but you have to play 90 minutes to win. To get to the level of North Carolina, that is what we need to do.”
Paul Fleck, the second captain for the Bobcats, thought the trip to Chapel Hill brought the team together.
“It was a very unique experience for everybody. We played okay, but the game was more about seeing where we want the program to be someday. The team really came together and hopefully this can prepare us for conference play,” Fleck said.
The Bobcats non-conference schedule includes Carolina and Boston College, another ACC team. Da Costa hopes a difficult schedule before conference play will prepare his team to push for a Northeast Conference title.
“All of our non-conference matches have been challenges. We haven’t gotten the results we have hoped for, but we are closer to being ready for September 29th,” Da Costa said.
The Bobcats begin the conference schedule at home against Monmouth and Mount St. Mary’s.
On Friday afternoon, the Bobcats fell to St. Peter’s 2-1 in a rainy match in Hamden. Danilo Schiavon scored a second-half goal for Quinnipiac, but two first half goals by Murphy Wiredu led the Peacocks to victory.
Wiredu headed in two crosses by Michael Medeiros from the left flank past Fleck.
Schiavon put in a loose ball with 28:32 left in the second half to cut the Peacock lead in half, but the Bobcats could not score the equalizer despite numerous chances.
Da Costa was disappointed with his team’s play in the first half that allowed St. Peter’s to jump out to an early lead.
“We realized we didn’t show up in the first half and had to do something about it in the second. If we don’t play for 90 minutes, it is going to be a long season for us,” he said.
One thing that the Bobcats do possess is depth this year, and Da Costa plans on using this to his advantage.
“Guys can step in and play if someone isn’t giving 100%. There is no comfort zone on this team,” he said. He believed that some changes in personnel may have led to the solid second half performance.
Before the conference schedule begins, Fleck and Mavula think the team needs to make some changes mentally.
“We need to recommit as a team and start playing for each other,” Fleck said. “It comes down to our effort and intensity; we need to start playing for 90 minutes.”
Mavula was impressed with the team’s play in the second half.
“The coaches fired us up at halftime, but we need to start playing complete games. The first half was the poorest we played all year, all we need to do is work hard to get the results we want,” he said.