Quinnipiac men’s soccer claims MAAC title after 3-2 win over Iona


Jack Spiegel

Quinnipiac earned its first MAAC title since 2013.

Colin Kennedy, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – The dark gray skies opened up to a beautiful golden blue which set the scene as Quinnipiac men’s soccer won gold for themselves on Sunday. The title bout between the Bobcats and Iona Gaels lived up to the hype as the top-seeded hosts held strong to win 3-2, and capture their first MAAC Championship since 2013.

This was a game that was a long time in the making for the Bobcats following a disappointing 2021 season. But after 11 months of work and 20 games leading up to this moment, Quinnipiac didn’t squander its opportunity.

“After the last season we told each other that’s enough,” senior forward Tomas Svecula said. “Whoever wants to come here has to come with a different mentality, that’s what everyone did.”

The Bobcats’ championship mentality was on full display from the jump as they got on the board only seven minutes in. Senior forward and captain David Bercedo came up big early as he connected on a header off a corner kick from freshman midfielder Alexander Stjernegaard.

“He knows that being a leader is more than just wearing an armband,” head coach Eric Da Costa said. “It’s about what you do, not so much what you say.”

After Bercedo’s opening goal, Iona brought the fight right back to the Bobcats. The Gaels applied constant ball pressure, not allowing Quinnipiac any chances to extend its lead. The momentum swung completely to Iona’s side, and it seemed like only a matter of time until the Gaels would strike.

In any championship game, you need a player to step up and have that signature moment. For the Bobcats, that player was freshman goalkeeper Karl Netzell. The MAAC Tournament Most Valuable Player came up big in the first half, with spectacular diving saves and deflections, highlighted by a ridiculous goal-line stop. As the first half came to a close, Netzell was the biggest reason Quinnipiac was 45 minutes away from a title.

“It’s a great feeling knowing that there is someone behind to hold your back, no matter what,” Svecula said. “Iona had a lot of chances, but he said not today.”

The second half is what you imagine a one-score championship match would be – chaos. The Bobcats flipped the momentum on its head, but this time, they were the ones applying the pressure. 10 minutes in, graduate student midfielder Noah Silverman pushed one past Iona sophomore goalkeeper Juan Alfaro Monge after an excellent lead pass from Stjernegaard.

Only nine minutes later, Quinnipiac put Iona on life support. Svecula booted a high-looping shot over Monge to put the Bobcats up three and the Gaels in panic mode.

Iona emptied the tank and went on an all-out attack for the final 20 minutes. At first Netzell and Quinnipiac did a good job sitting back and fending off the Gaels’ attack, but junior forward Aly Camara squeaked one by as Netzell came a little too far out of his net.

In the 88th minute, what seemed like the entire town of Hamden held its collective breath as Iona added another goal from junior defenseman Elird Mero. Following what was some dramatic pushing and shoving (and two yellow cards assessed), the Bobcats had to quickly show off their defensive prowess.

The Bobcats portrayed that championship mentality one last time and held on in the final minute to win its second MAAC Championship and first in nine years.

David Bercedo earned All-MAAC First Team honors and leads the team in goals with 14. (Jack Spiegel)

Bercedo was speechless following the win, but he reflected on how many of the newly-crowned conference champions were feeling.

“I’m so happy,” Bercedo said postgame.

That happiness shown by the players bubbled over to the spectators, as the student section, highlighted by the men’s hockey team, erupted at the sight of the third MAAC championship won by a Quinnipiac team this fall.

Quinnipiac will now wait to see who it plays in the Division I NCAA Tournament next week. For now, the Bobcats will enjoy this long-awaited championship, and get to work tomorrow in the hopes of showing their championship mentality to the rest of the country.