Bobcats’ Cooke, Scott dominate in 5-1 win over Manhattan

Benjamin Yeargin, Associate Sports Editor

HAMDEN, Conn – On what felt like the first true day of autumn, with the trees of Sleeping Giant in an array of colors ranging from a burning orange to green, the Quinnipiac women’s soccer team did anything, but fall. 

Coming off of its second loss of the season last Wednesday against Iona, the team scorched Manhattan 5-1.

The beginning 15 minutes of the first half felt like an episode of “The Office,” all you saw was Scott. 

Senior defender/midfielder Olivia Scott tallied her first and second goals of the year off of two corner kicks. She hovered around the net and when the ball came to her, she finished both perfectly for an early 2-0 lead. 

Quinnipiac head coach Dave Clarke views Scott as an invaluable asset of the team.

“She’s probably one of the best players in the MAAC,” Clarke said. “Yeah Courtney (Chochol) and Rebecca (Cooke) will get the attention, but Olivia Scott is the best player.”

Speaking of Cooke, the junior forward helped continue Quinnipiac’s early dominance.

24 seconds after the second goal, Cooke and freshman defender/midfielder Molly Andrews ran up field on a 2-on-1 advantage. Cooke shot the ball and a sprawling save from Manhattan graduate student goalkeeper Kim Mains kept the ball out of the net temporarily, but Andrews finished cleanly off her left foot by burying the ball into the bottom right corner. 

Andrews scored the first goal of her Bobcat career on this play.

In the 34th minute, the Bobcats subbed on senior forward/defender Taylor Dowdell, sophomore midfielder Ella Gagno and freshman forward Morgan Cupo. The trio all made an impact on the game with their time in, but Gagno had the clearest impact.

Senior midfielder Markela Bejleri touched the ball delicately to Cooke, who cut through the Manhattan midfield like a hot knife through butter. Cooke saw the run from Gagno, passed her the ball, and Gagno scored on a beautiful left-footed finish to give Quinnipiac a 4-0 lead.

Cooke not only does the goal-scoring, but commands others to score too. 

“Rebecca (Cooke) screamed at me to shoot,” Gagno said. “I just did what I was told and I wasn’t really thinking and it just went in.”

The eventful first-half concluded with an unassisted goal from Jaspers junior forward/midfielder Sami Derrico, giving Manhattan its first goal of the day, and Derrico’s third of the season.

The potent Quinnipiac attack distracts most from the other, equally important side of soccer: defense. Clarke noticed the defending wasn’t up to par and made sure the team took notice too. 

“I had a right go at halftime,” Clarke said. “The goal they scored was coming just because of the way we were defending … we’ve got to clean up some of the defending so it doesn’t become an issue.”

Coming onto the pitch for the second half, Quinnipiac’s defending improved dramatically. They held the Jaspers to three shots, zero corner kicks and no goals. The Bobcats subbed off starting goalkeeper, junior Sofia Lospinoso, and subbed on sophomore goalkeeper Kaelen Fabry for her first minutes of the season.

Manhattan also subbed off its goalkeeper, taking off Mains and putting on senior goalkeeper Audrey Johnstone.

In the 65th minute, Cooke struck again. 

She recorded her NCAA-leading 19th goal of the season off of her right foot, scooting the ball right past Johnstone into the bottom left corner of the net. Senior midfielder Markela Bejleri assisted Cooke on the play. 

26 different Bobcats earned minutes today, showing how deep the team can be when necessary. Players like freshman defender Kitty Jacob and freshman midfielder Madison Alves earned valuable minutes before the MAAC tournament.

The Bobcats are trying to earn home-field advantage and the No. 1 seed for the MAAC tournament. And though they’ve been superb, Clarke expects more.

“They’re capable of playing better,” Clarke said. “I want excellence and excellence is always striving for more, so the standards have to be better.”

Quinnipiac will continue to strive for more when it next plays Saint Peter’s on Saturday, Oct. 22, at noon.