New Faces, Big Aspirations for Quinnipiac Field Hockey in 2022


Clever Streich, Beat Reporter: Field Hockey

The sight of autumn in Hamden signals a new season of Quinnipiac field hockey, as the Bobcats will compete for the 25th time at the Division I level in their program’s history. As students move into campus this Friday, a battle of the big cats will play out at the Quinnipiac Field Hockey Stadium, as the Bobcats will kick off the season against the University of New Hampshire. 

 Before the first bully of the fall, here are some of the biggest story threads surrounding the team in the build-up to Quinnipiac’s home opener, as the team looks to turn heads and take opponents by surprise in the Big East. 


Creating the Calendar:

 On July 13, Bobcats head coach Becca Main announced a slate of 20 games to be played for the 2022 season. Quinnipiac will have plenty of opportunities to get back on track after a difficult 2021 campaign, where the team held a final record of 3-12. 

Quinnipiac will face a number of unfamiliar opponents in early non-conference play this year, including matchups with Maine, LIU, and Dartmouth. These games will test the team before they head to Philadelphia on Sept. 16 for the first Big East game of the season, as Main’s squad will play the Temple Owls, who handed Quinnipiac a loss in a sudden-death shootout in their last meeting.   

 The next six games of the team’s schedule will be an even split of three home and away games, including a pivotal road matchup on Sept. 30 against the defending champions, the Liberty Flames. Big rivalry games are set for the second half of the season, including in-conference collisions with the UCONN Huskies on Oct. 7, and the Providence Friars on Oct. 28. The team will wrap up the 20-game odyssey with Senior Day on Oct. 30 against the Sacred Heart Pioneers. 


Hanging with the Heavyweights:

 It has been nine years since the Bobcats have finished with an above .500 record, with recent seasons showing the team’s struggles since moving to the Big East in 2016. With Quinnipiac’s first victory last season coming after a nine-game losing skid to begin the year, it will be critical to have a solid performance in non-conference play, as the team can set the tempo for the year. 

 National powerhouse programs are around every corner in the Big East. UCONN, the five-time national champions, have never lost to Quinnipiac in program history. The Liberty Flames will look to be a contender for a national title this year, as they were voted No. 6 in the preseason National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) poll on Aug. 22.  Facing a top-heavy group, it will be up to Quinnipiac to play confidently and competitively with their opponents, despite being voted eighth out of eight teams in the preseason BIG EAST Coaches poll. The focus will be placed on scoring depth and drawing second-half penalty corners in close situations, as the Bobcats were outscored 48 to 18 in the 2021 campaign, and 28 to 9 in Big East games.  


The Faces on the Field: 

Quinnipiac will have 17 returning student-athletes for 2022, including 2021 All-Big East Second Team selection Emilia Massarelli, graduate defender Amanda Funaro, and senior goalkeeper Mack Vorel. In addition, a talented class of first-years recruited from around the United States and overseas are set to join the program, as Main added seven new Bobcats to the roster. 

One player to watch is first-year goalkeeper Cristina Torres, who led Spain to a Bronze Medal at the 2021 U18 European Championships and was the recipient of the tournament’s Best Goalkeeper Award. Forward Cameron Brower, a 2022 First Team All-New England selectee, will provide an offensive punch for the Bobcats, as she already tallied a goal in the blue and gold during QU’s exhibition against Holy Cross on Aug. 17. 

Quinnipiac will also welcome back Netherlands-born midfielder Eva Veldhort to the program after a two-season break due to COVID-19. Veldhort registered four points in her first-year season back in 2019. With Massarelli coming off a breakout ten-goal season in her first year with the program. Both new and familiar faces will play a part in bolstering Quinnipiac’s offensive output and supporting the back-end of the field this year.  

Another point Main emphasizes in her coaching is on-field communication and veteran leadership.  In a program where buy-in is the bread and butter, the effort begins from the very top with the 2022 leadership group of juniors Juliana Capello and Rachel Papernik as captains and Micaela Grajales as the on-field speaking captain. Capello ranked second in goals scored with four in 2021, Papernik played a key role in the Bobcats’ midfield with eleven appearances last season, and Grajales contributed two assists in twelve starts. The responsibility of serving the team on and off the field is no easy task, as the leadership group was selected by their teammates and coaches this past March.  

 Above all else, the Quinnipiac field hockey team has a lot to prove in 2022, and will once again play for the chance to earn a Big East tournament berth, the team’s first since joining the conference six years ago.