Women’s soccer falls to rival Monmouth, 2-0

Juliana Nikac

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Photo: Samantha Bashaw

Photo: Samantha Bashaw

The stage was set for the top two teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to go head-to-head on a chilly, cloudy Saturday afternoon in Hamden. The Quinnipiac Bobcats (6-4-1, 3-1-1 MAAC) welcomed the Monmouth Hawks (7-2-2, 4-0 MAAC) for a rematch of last season’s MAAC Championship.

Quinnipiac’s junior midfielder Jess Gargan predicted that this game would be reminiscent of last year’s postseason matchup.

“Before the game, I was getting the feeling that this one would be something special,” Gargan said. “I really think this matchup has turned into a rivalry, especially after losing to them last season.”

This contest featured the top offense in the MAAC, the Bobcats, squaring up against the top defense in the MAAC, the Hawks. Monmouth hasn’t allowed a goal in their four MAAC victories, and have shutout eight of their 11 opponents this season. The Hawks are unbeaten in their last seven games. Meanwhile, Quinnipiac is nationally ranked No. 14 in scoring, No. 2 in assists and No. 7 in cumulative points. The Bobcats were coming off a 2-0 victory against Fairfield, and also remained undefeated in their last four games.

From the opening whistle, the Hawks stormed into the Quinnipiac defensive third, dictating possession and ball movement. As a result, Monmouth got on the scoreboard just 70 seconds in when sophomore Madie Gibson dished a feed to senior forward Rachelle Ross, who tapped the ball into the net for her third goal of the season. 33 minutes later, the same two Hawks combined for Monmouth’s second goal of the game. After constantly pressuring Quinnipiac goalkeeper Olivia Myszewski and the Bobcat backline, Gibson made a cross to Ross, who tallied her second goal of the game and her fourth on the season.

Women’s soccer head coach Dave Clarke immediately had to make changes with his defense after the pair of Hawk goals.

“We couldn’t wait until halftime to make some adjustments,” Clarke said. “Based on what was happening with our defensive structure, we needed to get some fresh legs in there.”

The defensive efforts were present for the Bobcats though as Emma Greco hustled back quickly on a defensive breakdown. Greco stoned Gibson on a goal-line save, sliding across to deflect it away from danger. Myszewski also stood tall in net, making several key saves throughout the game to keep the deficit manageable. The Wisconsin native made two aggressive stops off breakaways in the second half.

The second half consisted of physicality and frustration for the Bobcats, which resulted in six yellow cards issued by the official. Many of the players, coaches, and spectators from both sides disagreed with the calls. Five of the cards were issued against Quinnipiac, while just one went against the Hawks. The foul count supported the persistent physicality as 18 fouls were called against the Bobcats, and nine were whistled against Monmouth.

Gargan was satisfied with the way her teammates dealt with the physical aspect of the game.

“I thought we handled the physicality and fouls well today,” Gargan said. “We have a lot of players that are more than willing to make those tough challenges.”

The Bobcats offense had minimal scoring chances against Monmouth goalkeeper Amanda Knaub. She face only five shots, three of which were on goal. In addition, the Bobcats forced just one corner kick to be taken while the Hawks registered seven.

Clarke reflected on a key component that his team had to follow through with in this game.

“This game was just a matter of execution. We weren’t able to execute our passing game against Monmouth defense today.”

Leading Bobcat goal-scorer Nadya Gill thinks the emotions and energetic atmosphere made it difficult to play their style of soccer.

“We were never settled in this game,” Gill said. “There was a lot of emotion, and if we get to face them again, hopefully we’ll be able to play our game.”

Women’s soccer will look to get back in the win column as they continue their MAAC play at home against the Rider Broncos on Wednesday at 2 p.m in Hamden, Connecticut.

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Women’s soccer falls to rival Monmouth, 2-0