Quinnipiac dominates Niagara in showdown of top two MAAC teams

Zack Hochberg, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – The Quinnipiac women’s soccer team used a second-half offensive explosion to beat Niagara 4-0 on Saturday.  

On a joint senior and alumni day, the Bobcats played in front of their biggest crowd of the season, including the famous Quinnipiac Teletubbies, who did not disappoint. 

When these two teams meet, it’s always physical. Saturday was no different, as the first yellow card was handed to Quinnipiac senior forward Paige LaBerge just six minutes into the game. 

The teams combined for ten yellow cards throughout the match and one red card on Niagara senior forward Emma Davies in the 56th minute. 

Both Niagara and Quinnipiac took turns creating decent opportunities throughout the first 45 minutes, but couldn’t quite seem to muster any significant chances to put a goal on the board. 

The second half was the complete opposite, as the Bobcats put together an offensive clinic that started just three minutes into the second frame when Niagara’s Djeynaba Thiam dragged down a Quinnipiac attacker inside the box.

Junior forward Courtney Chochol took full advantage of the Niagara mistake and buried her penalty kick into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

“Going into the second half, it was, we need to score one goal and then the game’s gonna be over,” senior midfielder Olivia Scott said. “I think we knew whoever got that first goal set the tone.” 

20 minutes later, Quinnipiac extended its lead to two when Chochol tried for her second goal of the day, but was denied by Niagara sophomore goalkeeper Felicia Grufman. The shot ricocheted right to Quinnipiac sophomore midfielder Ella Gagno, who one-timed it into the goal for a 2-0 lead. 

The Bobcats put the nail in the coffin in the 82nd minute extending their lead to three as junior forward Rebecca Cooke found Chochol with a floating pass out of the goalie’s reach, who headed it into the empty net for her second goal of the game. 

“I knew Courtney would be in there, she’s always in there,” Cooke said. 

Quinnipiac was not done yet. A minute later, Cooke put a ball through a Niagara defender’s legs before powering it in for her conference-high ninth goal of the season and a 4-0 Bobcat advantage. 

With the Bobcats up four, they were able to substitute senior midfielder Maliah De Rosario into the game.

After having four surgeries on the same knee, Maliah stepped onto the field at Quinnipiac for her first time on senior day.  

“I never expected to be able to play again,” De Rosario said. “But to just have that moment, and then the coach calling my name, it’s senior day, my family is here, the crowd is as big as it can be, it’s a great feeling to step foot on that field again.”

It’s safe to say Quinnipiac head coach Dave Clarke was very proud of Rosario for getting back on the field.

“I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do what she has done for four years. Rehabbing every day, twice a day, for four years,” Clarke said.

As the No. 1 team in the MAAC, Quinnipiac certainly lived up to the hype today. With the victory, the Bobcats moved to 1-0 in conference play and 5-1-1 in total. 

“Everyone’s gonna be scared to play us and we need to embrace the expectations,” senior midfielder Olivia Scott said.   

The Bobcats continue MAAC play on Sep. 24 when they travel to Buffalo to play Canisius.