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Men’s soccer eyes second-straight title
No. 1 Quinnipiac to take on No. 6 Fairfield in Friday’s MAAC Semifinal matchup
For the third season in a row, the Quinnipiac men’s soccer team has clinched the No. 1 seed heading into postseason play.
This year, the Bobcats will host the 2014 MAAC Championship at the QU Soccer Field in Hamden after posting a 10-4-4 overall record, and a 7-0-3 record in conference play during the regular season. Quinnipiac carries a 12-game unbeaten streak into postseason play, which ties the program record.
For some members of the team, like senior Borja Angoitia, it is their last chance to play in the MAAC championships and compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m not afraid or nervous,” Angoitia said. “I know that we are in a good place. I think that if we continue to play like we have been, we’ll be okay.”
The senior has allowed only 13 goals in 17 games this season, posting a .849 save percentage, which is good enough for sixth in the nation. Last year, Angoitia was named 2013 MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year and was selected to the All-MAAC Men’s Soccer First Team.
“As long as the team does well, this doesn’t matter to me at all,” Angoitia said. “It’s about the team. All these things are good to have and I’m happy for them. But if the team does well and we go farther than we’ve ever gone… I’ll be happier than I have ever been.”
For Quinnipiac head coach Eric Da Costa, the team’s close-knit mentality is a large part of what has made them successful so far in 2014.
“These guys believe in each other, they believe in our program, they take pride and ownership of the program,” Da Costa said. “Because of that they look out for one another. They believe in each other, they believe in each other’s abilities.”
Freshman midfielder Max Rothenbucher agrees with Da Costa about the team culture. A native of Munich, Germany, Rothenbucher relies on his teammates as family, as well.
“I think that’s what makes us strong, that we represent each other on the pitch as a team, as a family,” Rothenbucher said. “No matter who’s coming in, even for one or two minutes, you can see that this person runs for his life and tries to help the team.”
Da Costa added that the team’s depth has elevated them to the No. 1 seed.
“Every single player on our roster has had a part to play in all of our success this year,” Da Costa said. “It’s a total team effort, 25 players on this roster and every single one of them is equally as important as the next.”
Prior to its senior day game against Siena on Oct. 29, Quinnipiac held a four-way tie for first place along with Iona, Fairfield and Rider. Now, after winning its final three games and posting an undefeated conference record of 7-0-3, the Bobcats have taken sole possession of the conference lead.
“Anytime you can win a regular season championship it’s a great achievement,” Da Costa said. “When you can do it unbeaten, it means that much more. We respect every team in the league. Any team can beat anybody on any given day. It was just fortunate enough to be our year this year.”
The Bobcats are preparing for the MAAC tournament just like they would if it was a regular season game.
“We prepare the same way we always prepare,” Angoitia said. “Once we know who our rival is, we can look at things we didn’t do well when we played them, look at their tendencies and try to shut them down.”
Da Costa is feeling confident with his squad coming into the playoffs.
“We feel great going into the MAAC,” Da Costa said. “We’re in a good place. The team’s training well and obviously we’re performing and playing well. We feel good. This was one of our goals, to get into the playoffs. Now that we’re here, we’re just focused on our semifinal game on Friday.”
The No. 1 Bobcats will face No. 6 Fairfield on Friday at 1 p.m. in the second MAAC Semifinal matchup. The first semifinal game between No. 2 Iona and No. 4 Monmouth will be played at 10 a.m. at the QU Soccer Field.