Quinnipiac drops MAAC title game to Rider


Photo Courtesy: Liz Flynn

Ryan Flaherty, Men's Soccer Beat Reporter

For the second time in three seasons, the Quinnipiac Bobcats (10-6-3, 8-1-1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) found themselves with chance to win a MAAC championship and only one team was standing in their way.

That team was the Rider Broncs (10-9-1, 6-4-0 MAAC).

And just as Rider did in 2016, it delivered a heartbreaking loss that would end Quinnipiac’s season. The Broncs beat the Bobcats 1-0 on Sunday to claim the 2018 MAAC championship title and earn a trip to the NCAA tournament.

It was a cold day in Hamden, but both teams came out of the gate hot as they traded chances early in the game.

Just five minutes in, Quinnipiac junior Jeppe Haehre sent a cross to the head of Eamon Whelan that went just wide of Rider Goalkeeper Pablo Gatinois. Rider responded quickly by firing a shot from the box that was scooped up by the Bobcats’ goaltender Jared Mazzola keeping the game tied.

The quality scoring chances kept on coming including a free kick by Matthew Taylor that Gatinois was just able to get his hands on and punch it out of danger. It was both teams’ offense that set the tone for what proved to be an action packed 90 minutes of soccer.

It took 56 minutes of back and forth play until finally Rider broke open the game.

Clement Bourret crossed a ball from the far side that found Pablo Decastro all alone in front of the net. He slid it past Jared Mazzola and into the back of the net to give Rider a 1-0 lead and that would turn out to be all it needed.

The Bobcats fought until the very end but never found a way to get one past Gatinois.

“Maybe in hindsight we go back and we look at it and we probably could’ve been a little better,” Quinnipiac head coach Eric Da Costa said. “But you know they scored, they put their goal away and we did everything we could. We didn’t quite get the bounces that maybe we got in past games this year and that’s the difference.”

As they’ve done all year long, the Bobcats didn’t go away quietly as they dominated the last 15 minutes of the game, throwing everything they had at the Broncs to try and extend their season.

On multiple occasions, it looked as if Quinnipiac was going to tie the game up but Pablo Gatinois and the Rider defense were up to the task every time. Despite their inability to score, the Bobcats showed plenty of resiliency late in the game

“You never want to lose a final,” Da Costa said. “It never feels good, but to leave everything on the field like we did today and put everything that we could into the game to try to get back and tie the match and hopefully go on and win the match. I can’t ask for anything more from these guys.”

This game marked the end of many careers as the Bobcats will graduate eight seniors this season including Cromwell, Connecticut native Derek Parker who spoke after the game about his time at Quinnipiac

“It’s been the best four years of my life,” he said. “Without a doubt, I’d sign up and do it all over again.”

For now, the Quinnipiac men’s soccer program will look to next season as an opportunity to build on the success of this year and will have to wait for another chance to be crowned champions.