After trading goals, Quinnipiac men’s soccer defeats Fairfield 3-2

Milton Woolfenden, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – On a windy Saturday afternoon, after a hard-fought, back-and-forth contest, the Quinnipiac men’s soccer team came out with a 3-2 victory against MAAC rival Fairfield. 

Right off the opening kickoff, you could see that this was going to be a physical game, with plenty of elbowing and shoving from both teams.

In the 7th minute, an aggressive slide tackle led to some pushing between Bobcats’ freshman midfielder João Pinto and Stags’ junior forward Raz Amir, who were each given yellow cards. 

Physicality would be a theme of the day, with a total of seven yellow cards and one red card being issued, three to the Bobcats and five to the Stags.

“We try not to match their physicality, we try to make them match our intensity,” Quinnipiac senior midfielder Jason Budhai said.

The Bobcats struck first, as in the 19th minute, senior defenseman Domen Bozic clanked a shot off the right crossbar and in from just outside the 18-yard line, making it 1-0 Quinnipiac.

“It just felt like the right moment to shoot it, always against Fairfield, big games, big rivalries, so it felt even better,” Bozic said.

After sustained pressure in the Bobcats’ zone, Stags junior forward Thomas Drillien evened the score at 1-1 in the 33rd minute.

As soon as the goal was scored, Bobcats’ head coach Eric Da Costa began disputing the call, arguing Drillen made a high kick and thus it should’ve qualified as a “dangerous play” and had the goal waved off.

Initially the referee let Da Costa say his piece but as he continued protesting, the referee stopped play and issued Da Costa a yellow card.

“Every game is going to have its moments,” Da Costa said. “Our sport is emotional in its nature … I thought it (officiating) was inconsistent at best.”

Out of the locker room the Bobcats got off to a slow start in the second half. The team struggled to get the ball, and when they did have possession Fairfield forced them to the outside. 

In the 52nd minute, Budhai had a breakaway opportunity after receiving a pass from senior forward and captain David Bercedo, but Budhai was called offside by mere inches. 

The energy dramatically shifted in the 58th minute for Quinnipiac.

With a pass from junior defenseman Jared Smith, Bobcats freshman midfielder Alexander Stjernegaard fired a rocket of a shot past Stags junior goaltender James Anderson and into the back of the net, giving Quinnipiac a 2-1 lead.

Only seconds after the ensuing faceoff, Budhai was slide tackled by Stags graduate student midfielder Viggo Sjoberg while on another breakaway. While the Bobcats’ bench pleaded for a red card, Sjoberg was only issued a yellow.

Budhai was slow getting up, ultimately being subbed out, although he would return to the game after being tended to by the Bobcats’ training staff.

From the 62nd minute onwards, the Bobcats were forced to play a man down as Pinto was issued a red card as a result of a combination of a second aggressive slide tackle on the day and getting right in the referee’s face while pleading his case, actually having to be restrained by teammates. 

The Bobcats bench struggled to understand the justification for a red card. While arguing their case to the referees, the Quinnipiac bench earned a yellow card. 

Less than five minutes later Stags senior midfielder Alex Oliveira snuck a shot in the top left corner past the outstretched glove of freshman goaltender Karl Netzell and the score even at two.

Wanting to put away the game for good, the Bobcats ramped up the intensity. In the 71st minute, all of his efforts finally paid off as Budhai netted the go-ahead goal, putting the Bobcats up 3-2.

“I saw the near post open, so I tucked it in,” Budhai said. “It was a great feeling.”

After Budhai’s goal, the Bobcats flipped the script on the Stags, clogging the middle of the field and forcing them to the outside. Quinnipiac was now more concerned about not letting Fairfield score than actually scoring itself. 

The Bobcats were able to hang on as the buzzer sounded for their sixth win of the season while also remaining undefeated at home.

Quinnipiac will be back in action on Wednesday at home against Marist.