Tremendous defensive pressure early in the second half helped the women’s soccer team score two goals early in the half as it defeated Northeast Conference rival Central Connecticut State University 4-2 Sunday.
Sophomore midfielder Jillian Strassner was the key difference maker in the conference-opener, scoring a goal to break a 2-2 tie early in the second half to give the Bobcats a lead they would not relinquish.
The Bobcats (3-4, 1-0 NEC) kept the Blue Devils (4-6, 0-1) at bay in the beginning of the second half by forcing turnovers. And it didn’t take long for the Bobcats to capitalize.
After a Blue Devil turnover, junior forward Furtuna Velaj carried the ball up the left side of the field before sending a cross-field pass to Kemesha Woodfine. Woodfine saw a streaking Strassner in the box and sent a pass to her. Strassner didn’t miss and one timed a shot into the lower left corner of the net for the 3-2 lead.
“I just hit it as hard as I could,” Strassner said. “I just wanted to score so bad.”
It was the second straight game winner for Strassner, after scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Rhode Island last Sunday.
Just less than two minutes later, senior midfielder Meagan McLoughlin gave the Bobcats a two-goal cushion. Strassner passed to McLoughlin at the top of the box and she put the ball in the top of the net.
“The fourth [goal] from Meg just kind of finished them off,” Strassner said.
The Blue Devils didn’t leave without a fight as they applied continuous pressure for the remainder of the game. But the Bobcats were up to the task defensively and kept the Blue Devils at bay.
The Bobcats jumped out to a quick lead in the first half when Velaj scored her fifth goal of the season just over six minutes into the game. Velaj streaked up the right side of the field and picked the top left corner with a shot from outside the box.
But the lead didn’t last long. A little more than two minutes later Central’s Beth Lloyd tied the game. The senior forward received a pass from Allison Kelley and split two Bobcat defenders before bending her shot into the lower-right corner of the net.
Lloyd added another goal 11 minutes later when she found the ball in the box and lifted it over Bobcat goalie Jillian Kelley and into the top-right corner which gave the Blue Devils a 2-1 lead.
With close to two minutes left in the half, the Bobcats managed to tie the game. A free kick was sent into the box where Rebecca Kiting found it six yards out. She buried her shot into the lower-left corner. It was the first career goal for Kiting.
“It was a psychologically boost going in where we haven’t played well but we’re 2-2,” Quinnipiac head coach Dave Clarke said.
“It got us back in it,” Strassner said.
The win is the third straight and starts the Bobcats with a perfect record in conference play entering next weekend when they travel to Wagner and Long Island University.
“This takes a little bit of pressure off and hopefully we can take (the momentum) into the Wagner game,” Clarke said.
Head coach Dave Clarke speaks after the win:
Photo credit: Anna Brundage, Video courtesy of QU Athletics