The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac field hockey hunting for playoff berth under new leadership

Since the Quinnipiac field hockey program was founded in 1995, it has only ever known one head coach: the venerable Becca Main, who announced her retirement this past February after a 28-year career with the Bobcats.

Without Main at the helm, a new age has begun, one led by head coach Nina Klein, who was a member of the Quinnipiac coaching staff from 2018 to 2021 under Main before spending the 2022 season at Boston College

“I’d say (BC head coach) Kelly Doton is one of the best coaches in the nation,” Klein said. “So to be able to learn from her … was fantastic and I just want to be a very exciting, threatening attacking team moving forward.”

That lone season with the Eagles gave Klein a new outlook on how she plans to run a Bobcat offense that scored 37 goals in 2022. It was an improvement from the 18 goals scored in 2021, but a far cry from the 65 scored by the 2022 Big East champion Liberty Flames.

“The biggest thing that I want to add in our first season is just a really threatening style of attack,” Klein said. “I want to make sure that we’re in a position that we’re scoring a lot of goals early on.”

Klein inherited a squad that is at a crucial point in their contention window. Quinnipiac finished 8-11 last season, its most wins in a season since 2015, the program’s final season in the MAAC. 

As members of the Big East, the Bobcats are perpetually in a tough spot when it comes to postseason contention. With the conference tournament only admitting four teams, Quinnipiac will likely battle for fourth place as conference rivals UConn, No. 9 Liberty and Old Dominion are all consistently ranked among the nation’s top-20 teams. 

Now is the time for the Bobcats to strike, as 11 of the team’s 23 players are upperclassmen, eight of which are starters. 

Graduate student midfielder Stella Tegtmeier — who was named to the preseason All-Big East team — and junior forward Emilia Massarelli fuel the offense again in 2023, while defenders graduate student Olivia Howard and freshman Katie Shanahan will anchor the defensive circle.

“I trust Olivia Howard with my life,” Klein said. “She’s one of our greatest leaders. She’s one of our captains and she’s a great staple of our defense. Then to have Katie Shanahan, she’s just so poised. She’s almost playing like an upperclassman, and she has great leadership qualities already.”

Despite all of the returning talent and the eight total wins in 2022, only two came in conference play, resulting in a sixth-place finish for the Bobcats. 

However, they may not be far off from a playoff berth, as the two teams ahead of them were Temple and Villanova, squads that the Bobcats lost hard-fought games to at crucial points last season. 

Quinnipiac lost to Temple on Sept. 16 by a score of 6-3 after leading 3-0 at halftime, and lost 4-3 to Villanova on Oct. 21 after coming back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter. If the Bobcats found ways to win either one of those games, they could be in a completely different spot as a program.

Quinnipiac has already had several missed opportunities like this in their 2023 season. The team is currently 0-2 after one-goal losses to New Hampshire on Aug. 25 and to UMass on Aug. 27. 

Massarelli drove the offense against New Hampshire with her first-ever hat trick, but the defense allowed four shots to get past sophomore goalkeeper Cristina Torres in the 4-3 overtime loss. Against UMass, the defense held strong, allowing no goals from the field, but it took the offense 56 minutes to get anything going, resulting in the 2-1 defeat. 

The Bobcats don’t play again until Sept. 8 against Dartmouth. Their goal now is to take all that went wrong during the opening weekend and correct it in time for Big East play, which does not start until Sept. 15 at Providence.

Taking over for a long-time coach can be tough, but the team has responded well to Klein’s style.

“It’s definitely different,” Howard said. “I had my four years with (Main), but having (Klein), she just has a championship mindset. She really wants to push the potential of her players and make sure we’re reaching where we want to go, which is the Big East championship.” 

The jury is still out on whether that’s where this field hockey squad goes, but there’s no better time than the present.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Michael LaRocca
Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor

Comments (0)

All The Quinnipiac Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *