Quinnipiac clinches No. 1 seed in MAAC tournament despite loss to Niagara

Zack Hochberg, Staff Writer

The Quinnipiac men’s soccer team came into Wednesday’s game against the Niagara Purple Eagles as the No. 1 seed in the MAAC and with one goal in mind: locking up that top seed in the upcoming conference tournament. In order to do that, all they needed to do was win, but they fell to the Purple Eagles 1-0. 

Anything other than a victory would have the Bobcats scoreboard watching as the No. 2 Iona Gaels played the Saint Peter’s Peacocks later in the afternoon. 

Quinnipiac was sluggish to start the game; the Bobcats have used early goals to bury teams as a top-five scoring offense in the country, but that wasn’t the case today. The front line led by three senior forwards in David Bercedo, Tomas Svecula and Brage Aasen, were held scoreless by a stout Niagara defensive effort. 

Niagara was the aggressor, as the team was looking to secure a spot in the MAAC tournament, they played like it was do or die for the full 90 minutes. 

The Purple Eagles generated a number of offensive chances, including a great ball from Niagara junior back Stephen Hasse into the Quinnipiac penalty box. Freshman goalkeeper Karl Netzell made a goal-saving dive to keep the game tied in the 13th minute.

Quinnipiac got a good chance in the 26th minute off a Niagara turnover. Svecula centered a ball looking for another Quinnipiac attacker, but the ball was cleared out of bounds by the Purple Eagles’ defense. The Bobcats were unable to convert on the corner kick, keeping the game tied at zero. 

Quinnipiac woke up on the offensive end in the final five minutes of the first frame, as the Bobcats were able to string together a flurry of opportunities, two of which resulted in corner kicks. The visitors were almost able to convert on a corner, as sophomore defender Sander Sonsterud rang a header off the crossbar.

Despite the Bobcats not being able to score, Niagara didn’t have the same issue. An awkward bounce late in the first half allowed a ball to get past the Quinnipiac back line. Before Netzell could step up, Niagara junior forward Rodrigo Almeida got his foot on it, pushing it over Netzell’s reach for a 1-0 Purple Eagle lead heading into halftime. 

Both sides played at a faster pace in the second half, but the keepers did a good job keeping the game low scoring. Netzell was vital for Quinnipiac today, stopping five of the six shots he faced. 

With 15 minutes remaining, Niagara almost made it 2-0 on a header from junior midfielder Ali Alomari, but the post saved the day for Quinnipiac. Alomari had multiple chances throughout the second half to give the Purple Eagles an insurance goal, but he wasn’t able to do it. 

While Alomari wasn’t able to bury the Bobcats, Saint Peter’s gave Quinnipiac even more help when they took a 2-1 advantage over Iona with 15 minutes remaining. 

Quinnipiac continued to push for a goal, sending numerous players inside the box. However, they weren’t able to muster a goal in the final minutes, as they dropped their final game of the regular season 1-0. 

Shortly after the Quinnipiac match went final, the Saint Peter’s Peacocks closed out a 2-1 win over Iona, clinching a regular season MAAC title for the Bobcats and the No. 1 seed in the MAAC tournament. 

Following a 2021 season in 2021 where the team missed the postseason altogether, it’s quite remarkable the turnaround this team has seen this fall. 

With home field advantage in the upcoming postseason tournament, Quinnipiac will host the MAAC semifinals on Nov. 10, where they will play the lowest remaining seed out of the teams that advance to the quarterfinals and, with a win, the MAAC final on Nov. 13.