Vermont ends Quinnipiac’s NCAA dreams with last-minute overtime goal


Cameron Levasseur

The Quinnipiac men’s soccer team gave up a late goal in the second overtime on Thursday, ending their season.

Michael Sicoli, Staff Writer

BURLINGTON, Vt – Playoff soccer is a game of opportunities. The most opportunistic team tends to come out on top, and that was exactly the case as Vermont defeated Quinnipiac men’s soccer 3-2 in an overtime thriller in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday. 

Well, that was the case for most of the match. The Catamounts dominated the game, but the Bobcats held around and even controlled most of overtime, despite being outshot 29 to 14 by the time the final whistle blew.

But the playoffs are about magical moments. Vermont graduate student midfielder Alex Nagy made one when he volleyed a shot off the right post and past freshman goalkeeper Karl Netzell with just over a minute to go in overtime, putting an end to Quinnipiac’s season.

“Unfortunately it’s going to end in sorrow for one team at the end of the day,” Quinnipiac head coach Eric Da Costa said. “And today, it was sorrow for us. Tomorrow it will be someone else. And that’s just how it goes.”

The Bobcats put themselves in a hole early, giving the ball away in the midfield and leaving Catamounts’ graduate student midfielder Joe Morrison to lead a counter. A swift pass to his right led redshirt sophomore forward Yaniv Bazini to send a cross on the far post to junior forward Max Murray, who headed it past Netzell.

Morrison was a dominating presence for the Catamounts in the first half. The Bobcats didn’t seem to have an answer for the 175-pound midfielder, whose strength was on full display as he forced several turnovers through sheer physicality on the ball.

Despite the early blunder the Bobcats settled in. They possessed the ball — albeit without many real opportunities — until the final 20 minutes of the first half, when the visitors  kicked it up a gear. 

Senior forward Brage Aasen gave the Catamounts’ defense fits, in one-on-ones and off-ball movement. The former led to a lovely strike that missed the net by inches, hitting the far most and pushing wide. The latter led to the goal that would even the scoreboard. Aasen received a pass from graduate student midfielder Noah Silverman, turned and ripped a shot that found the back of the net.

The shot may have tipped off a Catamount defender, but the result didn’t change as Quinnipiac went into the half tied at one. Netzell had a strong half despite the early goal, with numerous saves keeping the Bobcats in the game.

“We brought in a really strong rookie class in this year,” Da Costa said, crediting his staff in the scouting process. “We have done that for years, brought in first-year guys who have made an immediate impact.”

The second half started off all Vermont, as the Catamounts immediately tallied five shots in the first eight minutes — equaling the same amount the Bobcats had in the entire first half.

While Vermont couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities early, the Bobcats later did on the sole chance. Graduate student defender Ýmir Már Geirsson chopped down senior forward Tomas Svecula inside the box after he received a swinging pass on the right side. A clean, hard finish to the right corner gave the Bobcats an unexpected 2-1 lead.

But Vermont didn’t back down, responding with a goal off yet another corner for Vermont as Bazini found senior defender Noah Egan, who pushed it past Netzell with another goal through the air.

Vermont would continue to hound Quinnipiac, outshooting the Bobcats 24 to 10. The Catamounts also doubled the Bobcats in shots on goal, eight to four as the game headed into overtime.

Quinnipiac started the first half of overtime strong, ripping several shots including one by Svecula that nearly snuck behind the right mitt of graduate student goaltender Nate Silveira. The half would end scoreless, despite a late surge by the Catamounts.

The Bobcats continued that push into the second half, but the best teams finish their opportunities and the Catamounts did just that. After missing so many earlier in the game, Nagy finally sealed the deal with a rocket off the right bar.

It ends a remarkable season for the Bobcats, who returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013, when they defended their home turf against Iona. Quinnipiac boasts a home winning streak that has stood since October 2021 and will continue to stand into next season. 

Da Costa emphasized the resiliency this team had following the loss. A squad that lost in the MAAC Finals to Monmouth in the 2020-21 season, missed the playoffs in 2021 before becoming this year’s historic run. Plenty of players experienced that ride with the coach — senior forward David Bercedo, Svecula, Aasen and Silverman to name a few.

“They’ve had so much success, and so much heartache, too,” Da Costa said. “When they look at the entirety of the work that they’ve done, their careers are not defined by this one game. Their careers are defined by everything they’ve done and the success they’ve had over the entire course of the career … They’ll be really proud of what they’ve done, and they’ll walk away with some really good memories.”