The Bobcats blank the Broncs 5-0 on Wednesday

Ryan Raggio, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – The Quinnipiac women’s soccer team took on the Rider Broncs at home this afternoon. The Bobcats looked to continue their success after shutting out Marist on the road while the Broncs hoped to end their two-game skid. Ultimately, Quinnipiac won 5-0 on Wednesday, pushing their win streak to six. 

It was a tough start for the Bobcats as they had trouble moving the ball through Broncs defenders early in the game. After one particular turnover by Quinnipiac, one of the forwards yelled out to the sideline that she couldn’t find anyone open. 

“If you look at the first 20 minutes, I think we were forcing it,” head coach Dave Clarke said. “We were still in that habit of trying to overdo it up the middle and trying to score.”

Junior forward Rebecca Cooke had a chance to break the scoreless tie with a penalty shot in the 17th minute of the first half. Cooke shot left but Rider junior goalkeeper Ellie Sciancalepore sold out to her right and made the falling stop. Despite the rough beginning, the Bobcats took over near the halfway point of the first half. They held the Broncs in their stables and dominated the offensive half until the break. 

There was plenty of physicality coming from the Broncs however, as Quinnipiac senior forward Paige Laberge was upended by a slide tackle from one of the defenders. Despite her noticeable neck pain, Laberge gutted it out and potted a goal for the Bobcats in the following minutes.

“You get knocks, but you know what needs to be done,” Laberge said. “Until that time you can kind of push through whatever. I got through that and then I was like, ‘OK I need to sub now,’.”

Not too long after Laberge’s goal was sophomore midfielder Ella Gagno’s tally through traffic in front, giving the Bobcats a two-goal lead heading into the half. 

As the Bobcats were released from their cage and headed back onto the field, they were in attack mode. Junior forward Courtney Chochol netted one under two minutes into the second half, giving the Bobcats a 3-0 lead. 

Three minutes later, following a few blocks and bounces, the ball found its way onto the foot of Cooke who proceeded to fire a laser to the top left corner, going bar down, for her 18th goal of the year. As of publication, Cooke is tied for first in the NCAA with Gardner-Webb University senior Maddie Turlington in goals. 

“I think it’s just her talent and her confidence in herself,” Laberge said. “She knows what she can do. So, I think having us to be behind her helps her play her best.”

Cooke extended her scoring streak to 11 games, and while her cleats may be orange, one could imagine they are on fire.

“I think she took her frustration out on the ball from the missed penalty,” Clarke said. “But that was a great strike.”

The Bobcats continued the hunt as Cooke began dancing through defenders to set up Laberge for her second goal of the day, but Sciancalepore snuffed the opportunity. That didn’t stifle their attack however, and sophomore midfielder Anna Costello put the game away shortly thereafter as she shot one past the Rider netminder. 

Quinnipiac’s defense stood tall throughout and extinguished the Rider’s final offensive push to secure the win. The Bobcats improved to 10-1-1, while the Broncs fell to 5-6-2. In its last six games, Quinnipiac has outscored its opponents 24-3 and remains undefeated at home with a 6-0 record.