Men’s soccer beats Marist in overtime, 3-2

Juliana Nikac and Will Fowler

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Photo: Lauren Heery

Photo: Lauren Heery

Though it was Senior Day for the Quinnipiac Bobcats (5-8-1 overall, 4-3 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference), it was freshman Simon Hillinger who stole the show, as he netted two goals in the Bobcats’ 3-2 overtime victory against the Marist Red Foxes (8-7-0 overall, 3-4 MAAC). 

The Bobcats came out of the gates strong, and before you could even mutter the words “Senior Day,” Quinnipiac found themselves with a 1-0 lead just 96 seconds after kickoff. The Red Foxes committed a very early foul, giving the Quinnipiac a set piece on the right side from just outside the eighteen-yard box. Midfielder Max Rothenbuecher, one of five seniors who was honored today, dropped a cross into the box and onto the head of sophomore defender Jeppe Haehre, who directed the ball past a diving Mark Rajovic and into the bottom right. The goal, Haehre’s first of the year, was the earliest goal for any Bobcat all season. 

After the early goal, possession seemed to level out a bit, as the Red Foxes adapted to their mistakes and began to become more assertive on the ball. They put pressure on the Bobcats, forced turnovers, and pushed the ball into the Bobcats’ half in order to avoid any more defensive lapses. They finally broke through in the 36th minute, when Marist wonder kid Allen Gavilanes, a freshman who entered the game second in the MAAC in points, leveled the score with a composed finish off a first shot that hit woodwork and fell to his feet. 

The second half would open up with the teams still tied at one goal each. After 14 minutes of seemingly uneventful soccer, the Bobcats squandered an absolutely golden opportunity to pull ahead. Rashawn Dally received a perfect ball and got past a defender, shook off a tackle, and got a shot off despite a rushing Rajovic. The shot went between the legs of Rajovic and was slowly making its’ way to the back of the net. As Bobcat forward Eamon Whelan approached to tap it into the open net, Marist defender Ernest Mitchell performed a crunching tackle and deflected the ball out of bounds. Quinnipiac was awarded a penalty, but Rajovic guessed correctly, and saved Whelan’s shot intended for the bottom left. 

Marist then went ahead 13 minutes later on a beautiful chip shot from Gavilanes, his second of the game, but it was Simon Hillinger who’s shot caught the attention of everyone in the crowd as he curled a long-range snipe from well outside the eighteen-yard box into the top right to level the score. After an excellently planned set piece from Quinnipiac that saw a shot go wide, the teams ended regulation still tied at two. 

The first half came and went without a goal, but it was the freshman Hillinger again making the crucial play, as he received a pass from Matthew Taylor inside the six-yard box, took his time, and tucked a shot into the bottom left to give the Bobcats their fourth conference win of the season. 

“I don’t know what went through my head… I just stopped the ball and hit it in… My first thought was to pass it back to Junior [Cordeiro] but then I thought, ‘I’m gonna try it’, and it went in,” Hillinger on his overtime winner said. 

With the win, the Bobcats have moved into sixth place in the conference, meaning they would get the last spot in the playoff bracket if the season ended today. They will look to solidify their spot in the postseason when they head to Siena to take on the Saints (3-5-7 overall, 1-2-4 MAAC) on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 2 p.m.