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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Women’s soccer ‘can’t rely on one player’ going into MAAC play

Aidan Sheedy
Quinnipiac women’s soccer finished its 2023 regular season non-conference schedule with a 2-3 record.

Being the reigning conference champions doesn’t guarantee future success, it only matters what you do in the present. For Quinnipiac women’s soccer, its non-conference schedule proved that. 

Quinnipiac struggled, not scoring a goal in the first 184 minutes of play. It opened up the season with two-straight scoreless efforts against Providence and Dartmouth by a score of 3-0 and 1-0, respectively. 

“I think we’ve definitely been on the come up,” senior forward Courtney Chochol said. “I think that the first couple games were a little shaky, but I feel like it’s definitely starting to click.”

After going through that rough patch, the Bobcats found their stride as they scored seven goals through their next two non-conference games against Drexel and Stonehill. This came before their three-game win streak fell in their final non-conference game to Princeton with a score of 4-2.

“I think going into conference play, we know that every game matters,” Chochol said. “In the MAAC, every single game means something and we know that the difference of first and second could be a matter of one game.”

The Bobcats came into the season first in the preseason coaches’ poll, receiving six of the 11 first place votes. Four players made the All-MAAC preseason team: graduate students midfielder Markela Bejleri and defender Kayla Mingachos, as well as Chochol and senior midfielder Emely van der Vliet.

Last season, forward Rebecca Cooke’s 22 goals led the Bobcats (and the nation), which propelled her to Penn State for her senior year. This year, the Bobcats have taken on a team-first approach, using their depth to their advantage.

“We still have players that came on late who started in the final two years ago. So that sort of goes to the depth of the squad that we’ve put together,” head coach Dave Clarke said after their game against Stonehill on Sept. 4. “But we’ve got to make it an 18 against 11 or 19 versus 13 squad type of game. That will be important.”

The Bobcats’ season is now heading into the heart of MAAC play, which they kicked off with two clean sheet victories over Niagara (4-0) and Canisius (2-0). In the first game, the Bobcats secured the win behind its 15 shots on goal and its nine corner kicks in the game. In the latter, goals from graduate student midfielder/defender Olivia Scott and sophomore midfielder Milena Branco propelled them to the win.

“We have to keep going,” junior midfielder Ana Carlos said. “Keep working hard in practice and in games, fight hard for everything because obviously in conference it matters the most at this point.”

The Bobcats’ home record last season was 10-0, which helped them become them to the No. 1 seed in the MAAC playoffs. This year that’s not the case, as Quinnipiac’s home record currently stands at 3-2 following losses to Dartmouth and Princeton, the former its first home loss since Oct. 20, 2021.

Quinnipiac has an important three-game home stand from Oct. 4 to Oct. 11 against Fairfield, Iona and Marist. If the Bobcats want to repeat as conference champions, these three home games are essential in securing the top seed.

Iona and Fairfield brought trouble to Quinnipiac last season. The Gaels gave the Bobcats their only loss in the MAAC, and the defending conference champions scraped a 3-2 win away from the Stags. The win against Fairfield proved to be the tiebreaker that gave the Bobcats home-field advantage in the MAAC playoffs.

Three of the final four games are away for Quinnipiac with trips to Siena, Mount St. Mary’s and Manhattan scheduled to end the regular season. These three opponents are allowing more than a goal a game so far this season. So if the Bobcats want to pull out as victors in their travels away from home, the Bobcats need to put the ball in the net the way they’ve been doing so far this season, scoring 2.14 goals per game.

The Bobcats have the highest scoring margin in the MAAC, scoring 0.85 more goals per game more than they concede per game. Going away from home for three out of the last four games is a tall task, but with the teams that they are facing, the Bobcats have the offensive firepower to overshadow the opposition.

Rider is another team Quinnipiac has to look out for down the final stretch. The Broncs are 3-5-1 on the year and 1-2 in conference play, but their record is something that should be overlooked.

In nine games, Rider’s defense has allowed just nine goals. Senior goalkeeper Ellie Sciancalepore trails only Canisius junior Jordan Spencer for goals against average in the MAAC.

The Broncs main struggle is putting the ball in the net, averaging less than a goal per game at the season’s midpoint.

The Bobcats offensive production needs to become a collective offense. Cooke and Chochol had 51 and 26 points between the two last year, to the next-highest scorer, Scott’s 12.

“We said we want to (spread) the goals out,” Clarke said. “We can’t rely on one player. It’s got to be multiple players. Players like (junior defenders) Talie (Lyon) (and) Madison (Manduler), getting goals. Carlos who’s capable as well. So that’s the key thing.”

The Bobcats need players like Branco, Scott and sophomore midfielder Madison Alves to increase their offensive play to get key wins down the stretch. If the Bobcats can get the anticipated production, they have a good shot to repeat as MAAC champions.

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Aidan Sheedy, Photography Editor

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