As the Quinnipiac University women’s soccer team begins its 20th season of play, this year’s group has one goal in mind. That goal is to make it to the NEC playoffs. In order to see this goal through, the Bobcats will have to blend together a mix of experienced upperclassmen and an array of talented youth.
Quinnipiac returns 18 players from a squad that went 9-7-2 (3-4-2 NEC) and finished five points shy of a playoff berth. Head Coach Dave Clarke, who is in his ninth season with the Bobcats, thinks his team can build upon the success it had last season.
“The pressure to return to being a winning team, record wise, doesn’t exist,” Clarke said. “There’s such a high level of confidence in those players. They’ve had a year of experience. They’ve had a year of full time training.”
Of those returning 18 players, Clarke has his top six scorers returning, including sophomore Susan Donovan. Last year, Donovan tallied eight goals and three assists. Through the first two games this season, she already has a goal and an assist.
Donovan should continue to produce as she is joined on the front line by redshirt freshman Sara Lawlor. Lawlor wasted no time making her presence felt when she scored a goal and added two assists in the Bobcats 4-1 win over St. Peter’s last Sunday. Lawlor and Donovan played together in Ireland, and Clarke believes the two players will bring out the best in each other. “I think the fact that now they’re both fit and playing on the same team has helped each other,” Clarke said. “Susan’s definitely benefited from having Sara on the team.
They’re a year older, they’ve been here a year; they wanted to come back; the homesickness is not as big a factor. So, I don’t anticipate a sophomore year slump.”
The other new Bobcats have also made their presence felt. Competition for playing time has heated up in practice and has made the team stronger. Clarke says he can see this competition as a good thing.
“These freshmen can all step in and start,” Clarke said. “And that gets everybody up. Now there’s competition for places, but there is also a buzz about the expectations.”
One new player who has made a dramatic impact on the team is goaltender Chloe Beizer. Beizer is a grad student at Quinnipiac who played for Yale for three seasons. Beizer helped lead the Bulldogs to 2005 Ivy league Championship and helped the team earn a Sweet 16 Tourney bid. The former Bulldog has made a major impact on her new team.
“Chloe’s played for a Top 20 program and has been to the NCAA a couple of times,” Clarke said.
“She’s older, more mature and she’s not afraid to have a go with players.”
Beizer has played the role of boss so far for the Bobcats. She makes sure that everyone knows where they have to be and what they have to be doing on the field for the team to be successful.
The Bobcats are slated to play an 18 game schedule this season. The schedule includes their 20th anniversary game against Iona on Sept. 28th in which the Bobcats will honor current and former players before the kickoff. Quinnipiac has their first NEC game on Oct. 7th at CCSU.
In the 2007 Northeast Conference Women’s Soccer Preseason Poll the Bobcats were picked to finish sixth. However, Senior Kate Ahearn believes this team is good enough to get into the top four and make the NEC playoffs for the first time since the 2004 season.
“It’s been three years of being good enough and not producing,” Ahearn said. “I don’t just want to say that we’re going to make it to the tournament, I want to win the tournament.”