Quinnipiac women’s soccer advances past Siena to MAAC championship, first time since 2016


Peyton McKenzie

The women’s soccer team is advancing to the MAAC championship game for the first time since 2016.

Peter Piekarski, Associate Sports Editor

Quinnipiac fans stormed the pitch when graduate defender Lauren Triglione scored the fifth and final penalty kick to send the Bobcats back to the MAAC championship.

With a little help from the Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse team, the Bobcats converted on all five penalty kicks along with a brilliant diving save by sophomore goalkeeper Sofia Lospinoso, which secured their spot in the team’s second ever MAAC championship appearance.

“It’s just like practice,” Triglione said. “We had men’s lacrosse come to our practice a few times this week. They heckled us, they put us under pressure and that pressure was almost harder than (today’s) was.”

After being held off of the score sheet for five games, sophomore forward Rebecca Cooke, who started the game at right back, scored her 13th and arguably most important goal of the season in the 84th minute to tie the game 1-1. Senior defender Kayla Mingachos delivered the cross leading to the goal.

“I knew we were going to get it,” Triglione said. “Unfortunate that didn’t happen earlier, I think if we had gotten it a little earlier we would’ve gotten at least two put away. Sometimes it happens, it doesn’t go in and that’s how you end up in (penalty kicks).”

The first goal of the game came off the boot of Siena senior midfielder Emily McNelis who curled a perfect shot into the top right corner just minutes before the end of the first half.

Quinnipiac pressed Siena throughout the second half, outshooting it 12-2. Over a stretch of 11 minutes leading up to Cooke’s goal, the Bobcats fired five shots on net and one corner kick and eventually found the back of the net — however, the goal was deemed offside.

Quinnipiac continued bombarding the Siena defense with through balls into the penalty box until Cooke finally put one home with six minutes left to play in the game.

“We’ve had a good run,” Quinnipiac head coach Dave Clarke said. “The ability of the team, more so for this season, the way they’ve played, they’re one of the best attacks in the conference and one of the best defenses, if not the best. Sometimes you just need to get to a final to say, ‘hey listen, this is your reward.’”

Throughout the duration of the game, Quinnipiac generated several chances that led to a multitude of near-miss shots. One-touch shots were pushing wide, and headers were popping over the crossbar.

Although Cooke started at right back, she had her fair share of opportunities to score during both halves with seven total shot attempts. Fatigue noticeably played a part as Cooke spent the majority of the game booking it up and down the field for offense and defense.

Sophomore Rebecca Cooke, typically a forward/midfielder, started Thursday’s game at right back. Photo from Peyton McKenzie

Quinnipiac controlled its offense through incredible play from respective senior and junior midfielders Selena Salas and Markela Bejleri.

It seemed like every time Quinnipiac shut down a Siena counterattack, the player preventing it was either Salas or Bejleri, who then set the Bobcats up going the other way.

“You want to play through (Salas and Bejleri),” Clarke said. “You’ve got two very technical players, give them the ball. It’s like playing basketball and not giving it to your point guard.”

Bejleri constantly attempted to go right through the Siena defense with strong possession and finesse moves, each time forcing the defensive line to collapse closer to the goalkeeper. Eventually, it led to more room for crosses, one of which set up the game-tying goal.

Both players will be crucial in the MAAC championship game on Sunday, Nov. 7, where Quinnipiac will seek revenge against No. 1 Monmouth in a MAAC finals rematch. Monmouth also knocked the Bobcats out of the semifinals last season.