[media-credit id=2279 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]The Quinnipiac men’s soccer team played its eighth MAAC game of the year on Wednesday in Hamden, winning by a final score of 3-0 over the Niagara Purple Eagles and improving to both 8-5-2 on the year and 6-1-1 in MAAC play, all but clinching a spot in the MAAC postseason.
Perhaps most excited about the win was head coach Eric Da Costa, who is in his 14th season as the head coach of the program.
“For these guys, I think it’s three in a row and seven in the last eight or nine years.” Da Costa said of the team’s postseason berth. “I mean we’re thrilled about that and we can continue on that legacy.”
Quinnipiac won the game in dominant fashion, striking early when it had the chances. In the sixth minute of the first half, the team capitalized on one of its early chances. Junior forward Eamon Whelan played a ball to junior midfielder Evan Hughes. Hughes carried the ball to the goal line where he made a quick pivot and sent the ball back into the center of the box. Having drawn the goal keeper his way, he created a perfect opportunity for freshman forward Oriac Vila Rotxes. Vila Rotxes screamed a shot into the top left corner of the net, putting the Bobcats up 1-0 over the Purple Eagles just minutes after the contest had begun.
With the score still close, the Bobcats almost let the Purple Eagles sneak back into the game. A breakaway resulted in a one on one matchup for sophomore goalkeeper Jared Mazzola and Niagara sophomore midfielder Luca Pacheco. Pacheco made a dribble move and then attempted a shot off of his left foot, with nobody left to beat other than Mazzola. Luckily for the Bobcats, Mazzola made a great play and didn’t let the game draw even, saving Pacheco’s shot and the Bobcat’s lead.
“Well with those situations, I really enjoy them because it’s one of the main reasons I play,” Mazzola said. “Stuffing someone is like the happiest moment of my life, and I knew where he was going from the get-go, so I had it.”
The second half started off just like the first, with Quinnipiac taking advantage of its early opportunities and extending its lead. In just the third minute of the half this time, it was Whelan netting his eleventh goal of the season with some help from teammate and senior forward Rashawn Dally. Dally took a shot that forced the goalkeeper to dive, and the ball actually snuck passed him but hit off the post. Relentless hustle on the play resulted in Whelan being the first to the ball, and he had nothing between him in the net as he played the ball softly on the ground into the back of the net.
The final goal of the game came just two minutes later, when Eamon Whalen sent a ball over the back line. Sophomore forward Salah Oumorou made good use of his time off the bench, outrunning defenders to the ball and netting his first goal of the year.
For Quinnipiac moving forward, Da Costa says it’s all about staying healthy and preparing for postseason play.
“We’re just trying to keep guys mentally and physically prepared,” Da Costa said. “This part of the season is grueling and it’s all about that physical preparation and trying to get guys fit. It’s all about maintenance and recovery, and we’ve done a pretty good job of that.”
With only two games left in the regular season, Quinnipiac aims to do just that. The Bobcats next matchup is at Marist on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.