Quinnipiac Women’s Soccer Regular Season Awards


(Photo: Quinnipiac Athletics)

Ben Kane

And that’s a wrap!

After a shaky start to MAAC play, losing 2-1 to the reigning champion Monmouth, the Quinnipiac women’s soccer team has bounced back and are bringing a playoff game to Hamden this weekend.

Quinnipiac’s 3-0 win against Fairfield on Wednesday confirmed that the Bobcats will finish second in the standings, receiving home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, unless they were to match-up with No. 1 Monmouth.

With the regular season coming to an end, it’s time to shed a light on some of the brightest players and moments for the Bobcats this year.


The MVP award is usually handed out to the player who scores the most goals on their team, or the one player that every team is anxious to play against when the schedule comes out.

Heading into the final game of the season, two players were tied with 26 points (goals and assists): Rebecca Cooke and Selena Salas.

While Cooke is the obvious choice ,having outscored Salas on the season by four more goals, Salas is the MVP for me.

Salas overtook Cooke on points in the final game of the season, getting two assists in the game. While points are usually the contributing factor, it is the versatility of Salas that makes her a true MVP.

Head coach Dave Clarke has tested the senior midfielder’s versatility, deploying her in the six, eight, ten, and even as a winger throughout the season. All the while, Clarke has insisted that he and his coaching staff want Salas on the ball at all times, calling her his “point guard.”

No matter where she is, Salas always has a direct impact on the game which is why she is the perfect recipient for this award.

Most Improved Player

Starting 34 out of 36 games for the Bobcats over three years, only one thing was missing from the play of Markela Bejleri — an end product.

Coming off a season that ended with Bejleri contributing zero goals or assists, the central midfielder did a full one-eighty, and heads into the playoffs with three goals and four assists to her name.

While Bejleri attributes her newfound confidence in front of goal to her desire to get forward and impact the game more, Clarke believes this confidence has always been there, and the only change that needed to happen was how she moved the ball.

“I want her to go forward, and the whole thing for her is that she tended to go sideways. She was full of tricks but it doesn’t always help you beat players,” Clarke said. “Now she’s starting to drive forward… and we’ve talked to her, being a senior international player for Albania, that if she is picking up the ball here [halfway] against Spain or Germany, she’s not helping her team.”

Bejleri has transformed her playstyle from one that was based on playing the ball the way she was facing, to a more technical and creative one.

Bejleri is now very quick to pick her head up and is not hesitant to play a bit of a risky ball, something we have never really seen from her before.

Moment of the Season

A 4-0 win snapping a 21-year losing streak to Yale, two Cooke hat tricks, or even an overtime thriller against Marist.

In any other season, each of these could have won the award. However, one moment tops them all: Clarke’s 200th win.

Clarke has served as head coach for over twenty years, and has not only brought a NEC championship to Hamden in 2001, but he also led his team to an NCAA tournament berth in 2000.

What makes Clarke Quinnipiac’s most winning coach in school history is his ability to confuse his opponents week in and week out.

One specific example came against Fairfield on Wednesday, as Clarke deployed one of his star players, Cooke, as a right-back in order to create more space upfront for his attackers.

“Every team, bar one or two of them, marked her man for man, and they [Fairfield] actually set up to mark her,” Clarke said. “When she was at right full[back] it threw them off, so they changed their whole lineup to play her, and they had to restructure it. We caught them off guard and if we can do that again that’s good.”