Bobcats hold off Siena to maintain the top spot in the MAAC

By on October 19, 2016

In a battle for bragging rights in the MAAC Conference, the Quinnipiac men’s soccer team edged the visiting Siena Saints by a score of 3-2 for its sixth straight victory. Siena entered the match second place in the MAAC, nipping at the Bobcats’ heels for the coveted top position.

The victory gives the Bobcats a 6-1 record in conference play, while the Saints drop to 4-2, giving the Bobcats some breathing room in the standings.

dsc_0067Srinithi Raghunathan

Five yellow cards and 23 total fouls were recorded in the match in a physical battle that had the DNA of a fight for first place. The Bobcats dominated the possession game early in the first half, highlighted by sophomore Rashawn Dally’s blazing speed and physical presence, which led to numerous quality chances.

After breaking past the defense multiple times in the opening minutes and coming up empty, Dally was able to create a scoring chance on his own and net a top-shelf goal, his second of the season.

“He’s fast, big guy who draws a lot of attention,” freshman Eamon Whelan said of Dally. “He makes things a lot easier on us.”

Dally found himself with more chances in the first half, but a golden chance in front was denied by Siena goalkeeper Aleksa Radosavljevic, who made a leg save.

Bobcats goalkeeper Chrys Iakovidis came up with a crucial save of his own, denying Siena forward Alexander Tejera less than a minute after Radosavljevic made his. Iakovidis, recently awarded defenseman of the week in the MAAC, recorded six saves on the day.

However, Tejera would not be denied on his second scoring opportunity. With 18 minutes remaining in the first half, the junior connected on a centering pass from redshirt sophomore Tommaso Centemero for his fourth goal of the year to tie the game.

Siena appeared to have grabbed momentum after the Tejera goal, and was poised to enter halftime with a tie score. However, with just over a minute remaining in the half, a handball in its own box resulted in a penalty kick for Whelan, who beat Radosavljevic for his ninth goal of the season.

Despite surrendering the deflating goal just before the halftime whistle, Siena came out firing for the majority of the second half. Quinnipiac absorbed the pressure with a “bend-don’t-break” defense, thwarting numerous set piece opportunities for Siena despite being under consistent pressure. The Bobcats rode the defensive wave of junior defenseman William Pustari, who came up with several big stops in the defensive end to eliminate scoring chances.

“Pustari is an aggressive player by nature,” Quinnipiac head coach Eric Da Costa said. “We know we’re going to get energy and passion from him, and we know he’s going to give us his full effort. He always makes the most of his minutes and helps the team.”

Pustari’s biggest stop of the game resulted in a break upfield for the Bobcats. Junior Filosmar Cordeiro had a chance in front, but was tackled hard by Radosavljevic, resulting in another penalty kick opportunity for the Bobcats. Whelan once again took the try and netted his second penalty-kick goal of the game, and tenth total goal of the season. Whelan is currently second in the conference in both points and goals.

dsc_0082Srinithi Raghunathan

The Bobcats suffered the consequences of a handball themselves with three minutes to go in the match, resulting in a penalty kick for the Saints. Tejera beat Iakovidis for his second goal of the game, cutting the deficit to one.

The Tejera goal would have been the equalizer for Siena, however a free kick that was headed in by the Saints was waved off due to an offsides call.

The victory for the Bobcats came without their captain James Doig, who was out with an injury.

“James wasn’t there on the field, but off the field he was there for us, giving us motivation and pumping us up.” Whelan said about his injured captain. “It was tough losing him on the field, but off the field we know he’s there for us and gives us confidence to play well.”

The Bobcats will have a week to recover from the physical bout, and head to Saint Peter’s next Wednesday. This was the Bobcats fifth multi-goal performance in their last six games.

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