Late goal propels Monmouth past Quinnipiac in MAAC title game


Photo: Liz Flynn

Andrew Meyers

Sixteen months separated the end of Quinnipiac’s 2019 season and the start of its one-of-a-kind 2021 spring campaign.

Yet, the four-month layoff that this team is set to embark on before it kicks off another season in the fall might feel longer than the previous offseason after the Bobcats lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Monmouth in the MAAC Championship game Saturday afternoon.

It’s the third such loss in the last five seasons for Quinnipiac, a program that has more conference wins than any other MAAC compatriot since it joined the conference in 2013 but has just one MAAC tournament title to show for it.

“We expect to be successful and we work hard for that,” coach Eric Da Costa said. “That’s why these types of results cut so deep. We know what we put in, we know what the expectations are.”

The expectation this season for Quinnipiac was no different than it has been in recent years under Da Costa.

The Bobcats were supposed to contend for the MAAC title and a spot in the NCAA tournament and they did just that. When the whistle blew on the final MAAC game of this uncommon season, however, Quinnipiac was not the one celebrating on its own turf.

The game went the way you might expect if you followed the Bobcats closely this season.

They dominated pockets of possession and had their chances. Brage Aasen and Paulo Soares were the facilitators, and Jared Mazzola made some big-time saves when the Hawks tested the senior keeper. Quinnipiac just lacked that finishing touch and was shut out for the first time this season because of it.

“We had opportunities to score and have a chance to win the match,” Da Costa said. “It just didn’t fall for us today. That’s the game.”

This game, according to Da Costa, does not define this season for the Bobcats. They celebrated a fifth MAAC regular-season title and received votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches Top 25 Poll.

What can define this season for Quinnipiac is its endurance and sacrifices made top to bottom to even have the chance at an NCAA tournament berth.

“Our guys need to hold their heads up high,” Da Costa said. “It’s an extremely difficult season that we had to endure. For us to make the sacrifices that we did and be able to come together as a group and have some success throughout the entire season is something to be proud of.”

“I’m really proud of them,” Da Costa said of his team. “I hope they’re proud of themselves as well.”

As for the future, expectations will not be halted for this squad. If a season is to go as planned in the fall of 2021, Quinnipiac will bring back virtually everyone from this spring season.

It may very well have the reigning MAAC Offensive Player of the Year in Brage Aasen anchoring its attack, and surrounding him, loads of talent and experience.

There may not be much for this team to improve on in the summer, but Da Costa and his staff pride themselves on finding every last way to make the team better.

“When you’re successful it’s hard to look for those things,” Da Costa said. “We do our best to try to find things that we can do better because there are things we can do better. We’re going to let this feeling sink in for a while before we reevaluate it but trust me, we tear this program upside down and inside out trying to improve.”

Regardless of when the next season begins, the Bobcats will be right there, reaching for the same thing that’s been eluding them for eight seasons.

At the end of it, don’t be surprised if they finally are the ones who are celebrating on their own turf.