Women’s soccer coach: Team fell short of expectations

By on November 15, 2011

If there were two words Quinnipiac women’s soccer’s head coach Dave Clarke would use to describe his team this year, it would be “frustrating” and “disappointed.”

“Frustrating and disappointed so in the reality for me … the roster that we had, the players that we had so, we underachieved,” Clarke said.

Matt Eisenberg/Chronicle

After going 7-7-4 the previous season, the women’s soccer team had high expectations. They were picked to finish fifth overall in the preseason Northeast Conference poll. The team was going to be led by seniors Furtuna Velaj and goalkeeper Jill Kelley.

This season, the Bobcats finished the season with a 5-10-1 record and missed the playoffs. After tying their opener against Canisius, the team went on to lose four straight games. They then went on to win the next three of their five games, only to lose the next four of their final six games. Quinnipiac finished the season with a win against Bryant 2-0 on Senior Day.

“Personally, I’ve been here for five years so this was definitely an underachieving season,” graduate student Kyla Miles said.

“It was a little bit of a disappointment for sure,” Kelley said. “As a team, we didn’t mesh as well as how we predicted that we would. There were certain people that didn’t fill into the philosophy.”

This was Clarke’s 13th season as the Bobcats’ head coach. He said that out of all the teams he has coached, this team was the most disappointing.

“In the past, I’ve had losing seasons but I’ve had losing seasons for a reason,” Clarke said. “Not a knock on those players but they weren’t good enough … this is the first time where the record doesn’t match the ability of the players.”

Upon graduation, seniors like Velaj and Miles will not be returning to the team. Kelley had an injury in the 2009-10 season and red-shirted so she’s coming back. While most of these seniors were the reason for high expectations, Clarke thinks the team will be better next year.

“I think the body for Furtuna is good and I think it’s strange to say, but I think Furtuna has underachieved,” Clarke said. “Yes she’s been a great player, but I’ve tried to make her become a good team player.”

Velaj finished her senior season with six goals, two assists, and 14 points in 16 games. Since freshman year, Velaj’s numbers have gone down every year. She led the NEC with 15 goals, 31 points and six game-winning goals her freshman year.

“The intent was to make her better prepared for professional or national team levels,” Clarke said. “What I should’ve done was left her being selfish and the true maverick that we would respond and act to her. I took something out of her game.”

While this season may have disappointing, Clarke is optimistic for next season.

“We’ve lost four players but we got seven players coming in already,” Clarke said. “Yes we’re losing seniors but there’s a lot of talent and experience coming in.”

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