Quinnipiac field hockey falls to Villanova, 2-1

Juliana Nikac and Kevin Higgins

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Photo: Kim Kerremans

Photo: Kim Kerremans

Quinnipiac field hockey hit a major bump in the road Friday afternoon, losing to Villanova by a score of 2-1. The Bobcats (3-8 overall, 2-1 BIG EAST) struggled to get any offense going against the Wildcats (2-8 overall, 1-2 BIG EAST), a sign that this team still has to work out the kinks in many aspects of their game.

The story of this game was the Villanova defense. While Quinnipiac goalkeeper Livy Golini put up a valiant effort in net, nobody had an answer for her counterpart, the Wildcats’ Erika Miller. Miller was the reason they couldn’t find a way, as she made an outstanding 11 saves en route to the victory.

“They have a really strong goalkeeper, and we knew that, but we just didn’t find a way to put it in,” Quinnipiac head coach Becca Main said.

Quinnipiac started the game sloppy, clearly taken aback by the aggressiveness of the Wildcats’ defensive approach. Eventually, the Bobcats made one mistake too many. Just six minutes into the game, Villanova’s Abby Siana took advantage of a poor Quinnipiac defensive set coming off of a penalty corner. Siana unleashed a rocket from the top of the circle, and there was no chance for anyone to stop it until it found the back of the net, giving Siana her second goal of the year and Villanova a 1-0 lead.

The early deficit served as a wakeup call for the Bobcats, as they quickly began to assert dominance for around 20 minutes. After a seemingly endless amount of chances, Quinnipiac finally got a bounce to go their way with just under eight minutes left in the half. Miller was being peppered by shots from Quinnipiac. After standing on her head for another great save off a penalty corner, the rebound found its way onto Elisa Ruiz Martinez’s stick, and Martinez put it home to tie the game at one goal apiece. It was the junior’s second goal of the season, and Selina Reichert was credited with the assist.

Perhaps the most important sequence of the game occurred with about five minutes left in the first half. Sophomore Marisa Larkin fired a shot at the top of the circle, giving the Bobcats a 2-1 lead. Or so it seemed. The officials ruled that Larkin was not inside the circle at the time of the shot, and since it was not tipped by anyone on its way through, the goal was taken back.

The Bobcats were clearly upset at the officials for making what they believed was the wrong call. Just seconds later, Villanova’s Lydia Sydnor scored her fifth goal of the season, unassisted. The remaining four minutes of the first half were choppy with neither team threatening much down the stretch. At halftime, the score remained 2-1.

Quinnipiac played with desperation in the second half, forcing balls to the net and pinching more on defense. The second half of the game brought Quinnipiac many opportunities; every one of them was squandered. Around 15 minutes into the second half, the Bobcats had three consecutive penalty corners. Though Quinnipiac came close, they weren’t able to convert on any of them. From that point on, it was clear that a seed of doubt had been planted in the Bobcats’ heads.

“I think it’s frustrating because we put a lot of time into those.” Main said when asked about her team’s day on the penalty corner chances. “You need someone to have their day, and nobody had their day today. The person who had their day was [Villanova’s] goalkeeper.”

Time and time again, Quinnipiac would test Miller, only to be turned away. It seemed like each save Miller made was more deflating for the Bobcats than the last. Eventually, there was no time left, and outside of a few penalty corners down the stretch, Quinnipiac limped to the finish line in this one.

“We’ve got to put the ball in the net, and we couldn’t,” midfielder Montana Fleming said.

Though simple, that statement was probably the best way to sum up the Bobcats’ performance. The offense just couldn’t click, and though the defense only allowed four shots on goal, they figured it out too late. Miller, along with Sydnor, who put together a masterful dual-threat performance, were too much to overcome.

With their first lost in the Big East this season, Quinnipiac drops to 3-8 overall and 2-1 in the conference. The Bobcats will look to get back in the win column Sunday in an out-of-conference matchup at Bucknell.