Championship Bound: QU Fends off Niagara to Advance to MAAC Finals

Zachary Carter

The Quinnipiac men’s soccer team trounced the Niagara Purple Eagles Thursday afternoon, scoring five goals to secure their spot in the 2022 MAAC championship game. 

For those who weren’t settled in their seats yet, you might have missed the game’s first goal. Not a single minute of play had elapsed since the first touch when senior captain David Bercedo took off on a breakaway, which was set up by fellow senior forward Brage Aasen, and made quick work of Niagara keeper Jamie Barry, finding the back of the net 54 seconds into the game to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead. 

The Purple Eagles, a team that had held the Bobcats to no goals in their last meeting just eight days ago, responded quickly. Senior Stephen Hasse sent a pass skyward toward the Quinnipiac net, where forward Rodrigo Almeida leaped and headed the ball past first-year keeper Karl Netzell, who didn’t even attempt a save. The goal would bring the teams even at one apiece. 

This would be the last time for a while that the Purple Eagles would find the back of the net, as Quinnipiac would go on to dominate the offensive end for four straight goals. 

20 minutes into the game, a free kick on goal bounced to sophomore defender Sander Sonsterud, who quickly dumped a pass down to senior forward Tomas Svecula, who turned quickly and fired a shot past Barry to give Quinnipiac the lead. 

In an effort to build on that lead, Svecula was once again poised to score just 17 minutes later. A costly foul by Niagara set up a penalty kick for Svecula, who outsmarted Barry, and fired his second goal of the game untouched into the mesh. As time expired in the first half, the Bobcats took a healthy two-goal lead into the locker room. 

In the 51st minute of play, the Bobcats continued their relentless offensive pursuit, making clean, quick passes to find an open man directly in front of the net. That man was Bercedo, who, set up by Aasen and first-year forward Ramesh Delsouz, as they tripled Quinnipiac’s lead over Niagara in one fell swoop of his leg. 

A mere four minutes later, Aasen sent a free kick toward the Niagara net. The shot banged off the left woodwork but trickled directly into the line of sight of Luke Allen, a Quinnipiac defender. Allen headed the ball emphatically past Barry for the Bobcats’ fifth and final goal of the game. 

Almeida would collect his second goal for Niagara with fifteen minutes to play, firing a penalty kick off the bottom of the crossbar and into the back of the net. Despite his best efforts, the Purple Eagles were no match for the Bobcats. 

The win today pits the Bobcats against the Iona Gaels in a battle for the MAAC championship.

Bercedo, a member of the Quinnipiac team that lost in the 2019 championship game to the Monmouth Hawks, feels it is time that they finally break the curse.

“I know what this is,” Bercedo said. “But I think this time, it’s going to be different.”

Quinnipiac remains undefeated at home, where they will now host the championship game Sunday at noon. The Bobcats drew even with the Gaels in their only previous meeting this season, but they now look to turn the tides and stay perfect on their home turf in their quest to finally hoist a MAAC championship trophy for the first time since 2013.