Quinnipiac Holds off Fairfield, Improves to 1-1 in MAAC Play


Zack Hochberg, Beat Reporter: Quinnipiac Men's Soccer

The Quinnipiac men’s soccer team defeated in-state rival Fairfield on Saturday afternoon, 3-2. 

The match was physical from the beginning; Quinnipiac’s João Pinto and Fairfield’s Raz Amir went forehead-to-forehead in the 8th minute after Amir pushed Pinto in the back, leading to both players receiving yellow cards.  

Fairfield got the first significant opportunity of the game in the 13th minute as Amir found an opening behind the Quinnipiac defense, but goaltender Karl Netzell denied the Stags the lead with a phenomenal one-on-one save. 

Domen Bozic opened the scoring for the Bobcats, sending a powerful shot from outside the box over the top of Fairfield goalkeeper James Anderson for a goal in the 20th minute. 

Thomas Drillen helped the stags get even with a goal in the 34th minute. Drillen took advantage of a controversial no-call on a high kick, which left Quinnipiac coaches, players and fans irate. 

When asked about the play, Head Coach Eric Da Costa asked a reporter if he thought it was a high-kick. After nodding his head, Da Costa looked at the reporter and jokingly stated, “Yeah, I’ll let you guys make the decision, but you look like a guy who eats his carrots so your eyesight is pretty good.” 

After halftime, Alexander Stjernegaard put the Bobcats back in front in the 59th minute, miraculously curling a ball that looked like a cross, bouncing through multiple players and into the net for the lead. 

Pinto was sent off after receiving his second yellow card of the afternoon following a slide tackle in the 63rd minute, forcing Quinnipiac to play down a man for the final 27 minutes of the match. 

With only ten men on the field, the Bobcats dropped into a 4-4-1 formation, allowing the Stags to create more space on the offensive side of the ball. 

Fairfield wasted no time taking advantage of the man advantage, tying the game up again four minutes after the red card when Alex Oliveira volleyed a shot past the right side of Netzell to tie it, silencing the Quinnipiac home crowd. 

However, the Bobcats weren’t ready to settle for a tie. Stjernegaard sent a through ball down the left side of the pitch to Jason Budhai, who raced past his defender before beating Anderson for the 3-2 Bobcat lead. 

With the one-goal advantage and a man-down, Quinnipiac, led by Sander Sonsterud, put together a stout defensive effort to put the game away. 

Sonsterud missed his first year with the Bobcats after receiving ankle surgery. Still, the long journey back to the pitch was all worth it as he made a massive impact on the defensive end, stopping multiple Stags’ offensive attacks.

“It’s been tough to see the guys practicing everyday, and you can’t do anything, can’t help the team,” said Sonsterud. “Just sitting on a bike, watching those guys play, I was just so happy to play.”

As Da Costa preached throughout the year, this Bobcats team is a family, and it certainly seemed like it even though Sonsterud couldn’t play.

“They’ve (his teammates) been so helpful,” said Sonsterud. “Just talking to me, keeping me up, especially when I’ve been kind of sad after sitting on a bike for an hour during practice, it’s not the most fun thing.”

With the victory, Quinnipiac improved to 1-1 in conference play.

“I’m sure the fans got their money’s worth today, but I think I lost a couple years off the end of my life with this one,” said Da Costa.

The Bobcats continue MAAC play on Oct. 5 at home against Marist.