Flash in the pan: Will Quinnipiac men’s soccer stay hot or will it fizzle out?


Daniel Passapera

Men’s soccer is undefeated at home through three games in Hamden this season.

Benjamin Yeargin, Associate Sports Editor

There’s a lot to commend about the Quinnipiac men’s soccer team.

For starters, the team has been up to the mark in out-of-conference play, going 4-2-1. The Bobcats also have its three best forwards dominating the attack.

It’s no secret that the trio of seniors David Bercedo, Tomas Svecula and now-injured Brage Aasen have propelled Quinnipiac over nearly every opponent the team has faced. Bercedo and Svecula are No. 1 and No. 2 in points with 11 and nine, respectively, and despite his injury, Aasen is still tied for third in points with six.

Freshman forward Ramesh Delsouz, senior midfielder/forward Jason Budhai and sophomore forward Sam McCann have been playing in Aasen’s place.

I mentioned in my season preview that the midfield is the biggest weakness of this team. But that’s not true anymore. Led by graduate student midfielder Alex Holle and freshman midfielder Alexander Stjernegaard, the team has changed for the better.

The offense is propelled by the midfielders precision passing, the pressure the team puts on the opponent’s defenses and its movement on and off the ball.

Quinnipiac manages to get its forwards into the 18-yard box, making any pass made by the midfielders or defenders into the box a potential goal.

“You always have to be ready,” Svecula said on Sept. 10 after the game against CCSU. “When you have a good build up, you’ll probably create more chances (in the box).”

Holle is one of two Bobcats tied in points with Aasen, the other being Stjernegaard.

Stjernegaard’s impact is the most felt among the freshmen. His four assists lead the team, two of which he tallied on Sept. 14 against Sacred Heart.

The Germany native leads a group of freshmen that have started on head coach Eric Da Costa’s squad, including the likes of freshman defenders João Pinto, Luke Schierenbeck and Erik Langwagen.

Freshman goalkeeper Karl Netzell has received the majority of the starts in net, where he has been solid. His one clean sheet came against Sacred Heart.

It’s evident that the Bobcats have a deep roster. With the freshman named above, the players starting in place of Aasen, along with many of the others, they are poised to make an impact no matter who is on the field.

There are players not mentioned at all that have made an impact on the field. For example, graduate student midfielder Noah Silverman and senior defenseman Magnus Reistand have both registered at least one point and been on-field leaders. Sophomore goaltender Matthew Pisani has started three games and allowed only four goals.

That may not sound great, but Pisani’s impact stretches more than his goals allowed.

The depth can give starters rest when necessary and it is what can rejuvenate and take the Bobcats to the next level.

It’s difficult to ignore a key similarity between this rendition of Quinnipiac men’s soccer, and the 2021 version. Both teams got off to hot starts, and that hot start last season ended with the Bobcats fizzling out and missing the MAAC playoffs.

The result for this team is to be determined, but the Bobcats do have some glaring weaknesses that must be fixed to avoid the fate of their predecessors.

The Bobcats’ best weapon is their aggressive attack, which can also lead into their biggest weakness – defense on counter-attacks.

Being aggressive on the attack pushes the defenders into and around the box. When Quinnipiac loses possession, the defenders – Pinto, Schierenbeck, Langwagen and juniors Luke Allen and Jared Smith – all must run back and manage the opponents counter-attack. The Bobcats have been caught flat-footed and allowed goals in this exact manner before.

“We have to be really smart and secure in the back,” Da Costa said on Sept. 10. “What that forces the opponent to do is to be a bit more direct, and put a bit more pressure on your back line.”

Allen and Smith have both anchored the defense, providing the stability that has allowed Pinto, Schierenbeck and Langwagen to grow into the system. The defense has been an overall net-positive, but the counter-attack defense has been a challenge.

A potential solution to this problem is to add some leadership to the net, meaning start Pisani.

Besides his abysmal performance against Boston College, he has registered two clean sheets, one against a bad Hartford side and another against a Vermont team which has received votes in the national poll.

His leadership can easily guide a majority-freshmen defensive unit, and tune it to best help the side and to how Da Costa wants the team to play. His two clean sheets are evident of his strength as a goaltender.

The Bobcats next game is at home against Stonehill on Sept. 21. The team begins conference play on Sept. 28 against Siena, with its first home conference match on Oct. 1 against Fairfield. A team that has the talent to win the MAAC title must make these adjustments, or else they will repeat the same mistakes as last season. Going home with disappointment and without a trophy.