“She’s a point guard;” Salas Lifts Quinnipiac to Win Over Marist


(Photo: Liz Flynn)

Ben Kane

The term “point guard” is not one thrown out too often on a soccer team, but Quinnipiac women’s soccer head coach Dave Clarke believes his squad revolves around their playmaker, Selena Salas.

The senior midfielder rebounded from a missed penalty shot in the first half of overtime to set up the game-winning goal for Rebecca Cooke in the second extra period against Marist on Saturday.

The Bobcats moved to 2-1 in MAAC play with the win, thanks in large part to a different play style.

The match was filled with direct balls that started with the Quinnipiac centre backs, who then pinged them right down the throats of the Red Foxes into space for the Bobcats attack.

It’s a style that Clarke has attempted to emphasize in training recently, though the strategy comes with the risk of turning the ball over.

“We knew that Marist were going to sit in with two backs of four,” said Clarke “It was all about trying to get it wider a little bit quicker, without necessarily skipping our lines. We did it a couple of times, almost too many times.”

With this different playstyle, key players such as Cooke and Salas were tasked to take up different positions on the field to make an impact.

“We tried to push Rebecca out wide, and tell her to stop coming in too early, and let the play come to her,” Clarke said.

This exact scenario was the reason for the game-winning goal in the 105th minute. Salas picked up the ball at the halfway line and played a perfectly-timed through ball to Cooke, who evaded the keeper to tuck home her team-best eighth goal of the season.

It was a trademark finish for Cooke, bearing much resemblance to her game-winning goal in overtime of last year’s MAAC quarterfinals against Fairfield.

“When I get into those situations, I always think, ‘what am I going to do?’” Cooke said. “Most of the time when I’m one-on-one with the keeper, I just take it around her and hope for the best.”

But the openings were very hard for the Bobcats to come by on the field. As a result, Salas found herself dropping deeper into the midfield in order to make an influence on the game.

“What I got from being on the field was that they were man-marking us a lot,” Salas said. “I felt like there was always a girl with me to not give me space and to stop me from playing this type of ball.”

While Salas playing in a deeper role hasn’t been uncommon this season, it is not her preference of positions.

“My whole life, I have been in an attacking mindset as a number ten,” Salas said. “Lately, however, and last season, I have been playing in the six a lot. It’s tough because I have to be mindful of my positioning, and I usually find myself attacking as a ten and defending as a six.”

With Salas not being given as much attacking space, the Bobcats were forced to play over the top of the midfield and directly into the strikers, which is not something Clarke specifically enjoyed.

“We want to play,” Clarke said. “We’ve got a very technical midfield, and there’s no point in having the ball go right over their heads. We just have to give it to [Salas].”

Clarke demands that his team play through the midfield since that is where their most dangerous and creative player is.

“She is a point guard, and we have to give it to her to get it out,” Clarke said. “You don’t give the ball to the power forward to make a play.”