Non-conference schedule has Bobcats poised for success

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Non-conference schedule has Bobcats poised for success

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

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The Quinnipiac men’s soccer team loves to challenge themselves in non-conference play. With the release of the team’s 2019 schedule on Monday, it was apparent this trend would continue going into the upcoming campaign.

Eric Da Costa’s squad has a non-conference slate similar to last season. The Bobcats open up with contests against Boston College and UMass-Lowell again, this time on the road.

I think you can’t really ask for two better teams to start off a season where Quinnipiac has lofty expectations (and rightly so) for themselves. Boston College and UMass-Lowell are traditionally two of the strongest teams in the New England region, and having the opportunity to play on the road against quality opposition is perfect for the beginning of the campaign. They are both also frequent matchups for the Bobcats in the early part of the season.

Besides that, Quinnipiac has a healthy sampling of the America East Conference in their schedule. They will take on Vermont, Albany and New Hampshire in addition to UMass-Lowell. Sandwiched in between those tilts are battles with NEC outfits Sacred Heart and CCSU.

You can never get too high or low based on results from non-conference play, but I think the Bobcats have structured their schedule in a really smart way. In terms of talent, they should be able to beat Sacred Heart and CCSU without an issue. However, with both of these games being against in-state rivals and former NEC foes, the games will be intense and require a certain level of focus to get the job done. Quinnipiac should be able to fine-tune different combinations in attack and defense with MAAC play looming.

One of the strengths of this team for me, throughout the last two years at least, is they are tactically flexible. The Bobcats have enough depth and versatility to be able to adapt to opponents rather than be stuck playing in one system no matter the scenario. Playing against three of the top four teams in last year’s America East standings, as well as Boston College, will help the team get in-game reps on defensive positioning before conference play. Against stronger teams, positioning, communication, ball retention and scoring with limited chances are typical driving forces behind winning.

Quinnipiac was 8-1-1 last year in MAAC play for a reason. I’m not saying their tough non-conference schedule was the only reason for that, but playing competitive games early certainly did not hurt. When conference play swooped in, the Bobcats were a well-oiled machine able to adapt to opponents on the fly and find ways to win.

With a similar look to their schedule, I don’t see why this year will be any different for Quinnipiac. There were some key departures due to graduation, but the Bobcats still have the talent and culture to finish at the top of the conference with a legitimate opportunity to host the MAAC Championship for two years running.