Quinnipiac Men’s Soccer Sees Season End in MAAC Semifinals

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Quinnipiac Men’s Soccer Sees Season End in MAAC Semifinals

Photos: Liz Flynn

Photos: Liz Flynn

Photos: Liz Flynn

Photos: Liz Flynn

Jacob Resnick

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The emotion — pain, exasperation, dejection — slammed Chrysostomos Iakovidis backward into a chair on the Quinnipiac bench.

Iakovidis, the senior goalkeeper from Greece, had not spent much time in his seat during Thursday’s MAAC Men’s Soccer Championship semifinal between the Bobcats and the Iona Gaels.

It wasn’t due to his work between the posts; Iakovidis did not see time on the pitch this afternoon. In fact, the fit keeper had not stepped on the field in a competitive match in over a calendar year.

“Replacing players is easy,” Quinnipiac head coach Eric Da Costa said after his team was handed a 2-1 loss and another early exit from the postseason. “Replacing someone’s character and the person, that’s the most difficult thing for us.”

For 90 frigid minutes, Iakovidis ran wild up and down the near sideline, imploring his teammates to pressure their Iona counterparts and chiding the officials when a whistle did not go his side’s way, an occurrence that he would probably claim happened far too often.

But the men in yellow are not to be blamed for Thursday’s outcome. Iona simply capitalized on its chances while Quinnipiac could not put the ball in the back of the net when it had the opportunity, until it was too late.

“Credit to Iona. The deserved to move on,” Da Costa said. “They had probably three decent looks at goal and they put two of them away. We had six, seven, maybe eight really good looks at goal and we didn’t [convert].”

The Gaels kicked off the scoring in the 22nd minute when junior Josh Plimpton snuck down the far right wing, took a pinpoint pass from Najim Romero, and finished with his right foot over the shoulder of Bobcat goalkeeper Jared Mazzola.

Mazzola might not have been able to stop the clinical finish, but a questionable decision 12 minutes later may have cost his team a chance at a comeback.

A long ball for Romero in the 33rd minute carried him into the top corner of the 18-yard box where he was met by Mazzola, who was ultimately too late to get to where he needed to be. Mazzola went for the ball but flew into the legs of Romero, who did not flinch and absorbed the contact. The referee pointed to the penalty spot, where Romero stepped up and calmly sent a strike past Mazzola to his left.

Iona went into the half with the momentum and held onto it for the final 45. First-year Quinnipiac wing Brage Aasen scored with just under two minutes remaining but the story of the game had already been written.

The Gales, who will face Saint Peter’s in the MAAC finals, and their fans stormed the pitch when the clock hit zero and the Bobcats watched their opponents celebrate in Hamden for the second straight year.

“No lack of effort, no lack of desire, no lack of passion,” Da Costa said firmly. “These guys showed their character again when they were up against it. There’s no quit in this program, that’s the culture of who we are, and that’s something I walk away from really proud of.”

When it hit Iakovdis that everything was over, what he and the rest of the senior class had worked for over the last four years, his eyes began to water. He received passing embraces from multiple teammates before walking over to the goalposts between which he had stood for nearly 4,000 minutes since the fall of 2016.

While the postseason losses sting now, the program will continue to grow, thanks to the efforts of Iakovdis and his seven brothers who walked off the Quinnipiac Soccer Field for the final time on Thursday.