Out for redemption: After a disappointing 2021 season, men’s soccer looks to return to MAAC glory


Daniel Passapera

The Quinnipiac men’s soccer team is two wins away from its first MAAC title since 2013.

Colin Kennedy, Staff Writer

Success is not a foreign term within the walls of the Quinnipiac men’s soccer program. Winning four MAAC regular season titles since joining the conference in 2013, the Bobcats know what it takes to reach the top of the mountain.

Despite the regular season success, Quinnipiac has struggled to translate it to the postseason, with only one MAAC championship to its name from 2013. However, this group has been defying the odds all season long. The team might just have it in them to make it another special week in Hamden.

To say the Bobcats bounced back from a tough 2021 season would be an understatement. Although finishing the season with a winning record at 9-8, their lackluster conference play kept them out of the playoffs. In this year’s campaign, Quinnipiac wanted to right the ship.

“They’ve tasted a lot of success, and they had to overcome not being a part of that success,” Quinnipiac head coach Eric Da Costa said following a 2-0 win against Canisius on Oct. 29.

This group of Bobcats took the underwhelming 2021 campaign to heart and came out in 2022 with a vengeance. The team finished the regular season with a 11-4-3 overall record and 6-2-2 record within the conference. Despite a 1-0 loss to Niagara, Quinnipiac clinched the MAAC regular season title with a little help from Saint Peter’s, who beat Iona to give the Bobcats sole possession of the title.

Led by captain and senior forward David Bercedo, Quinnipiac has created a dangerous offensive attack. Bercedo leads the team in goals with 11, which puts him eighth in Division I of the NCAA. The captain was also recently awarded the 2022 MAAC Golden Boot Award, given to the player with the most goals in the conference.

To have the sixth ranked scoring offense in the country, you’re going to need more than just one player to create offense. Luckily, the Quinnipiac roster is filled with guys who love to find the back of the net.

Joining Bercedo on the starting front line are senior forwards Tomas Svecula and Brage Aasen, who both earned All-MAAC First Team honors. Svecula has started all 18 games for the Bobcats this season, adding six goals, and while Aasen has been battling injuries all season, he returned at just the right time for the Bobcats. Although he has played in only nine games, Aasen has four goals to match his four assists.

This team is a tight-knit group, and it’s clear when you see the depth and confidence that it plays with. The roster is deep with players from every class, including graduate student midfielder Alex Holle, senior forward Jason Budhai and graduate student midfielder Noah Silverman.

“They mean everything to me, we have a really special bond,” Holle said following a 2-0 win against Canisius on Oct. 29.

In a team that is filled with veteran players, there are a few newcomers that have left their mark on this group. Freshman midfielder Alexander Stjernegaard has started every game for Quinnipiac, while also leading the team in minutes played. Stjernegaard was recognized for his stellar collegiate debut season, as he was awarded the 2022 MAAC Rookie of the Year. Freshman defenseman Erik Langwagen has also been a crucial piece to the Bobcats success, tallying over 1,000 minutes played on the season.

Quinnipiac understands that success is fragile, and with home-field advantage the Bobcats have set themselves up to reach the top of the MAAC.

Receiving a first round bye, Quinnipiac will take on Niagara in the semi-final round Thursday, akin to the women’s soccer team who beat Niagara to win the MAAC Championship.

“We measure success by getting into the playoffs, winning trophies and championships,” Da Costa said.

Despite not having won a MAAC title since 2013, the Bobcats are no stranger to the big game, having appeared in four of the last nine MAAC Championships that have taken place since they joined the conference.

It’s clear that Quinnipiac is capable of continuing to score at the rate it has, but the real question will be if they can hold strong on the defensive end in front of freshman goalkeeper Karl Netzell. When the intensity rises in the playoffs, quality offensive chances tend to diminish. The Bobcats will need to raise their defensive intensity to another level if they want to claim the title.

“Offense wins games, defense wins championships,” Da Costa said.

Quinnipiac has been defying the odds all season long, so with two possible games remaining in the MAAC playoffs before a po- tential NCAA tournament berth, lets see if the Bobcats have any playoff magic left in them.