Autumn outlook

Quinnipiac fall sports are getting back to the swing of things, here’s what to expect from each program

By on August 28, 2018

The start of the school year means the start of fall sports. While the weather might not feel like autumn quite yet, the sports programs are already shifting into gear. The men’s and women’s soccer and cross country teams, the rugby team, the field hockey team and the volleyball team have all started – or will soon be starting – their seasons.

Morgan Tencza | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
The men’s soccer team enters 2018 coming off an 8-9-1 season (6-4 MAAC). That doesn’t seem too impressive on paper, but head coach Eric Da Costa’s team squeaked into the MAAC Tournament and lost in the semifinals to No. 1 seed and eventual champion Fairfield on penalty kicks. This year will present a new challenge for Da Costa, though. Key players James Doig (most wins by a player in program history), Max Rothenbuecher (team-high five assists) and Will Pustari (started all 19 games) are all gone, and the Bobcats are now stocked with six freshmen and three transfers.

Da Costa is putting his team to the test early in the season in order to prepare them for conference play. Early season matchups against Boston College (2-1 loss), UMass Lowell (1-1 draw) and North Carolina State (Sept. 11) will set the tone for conference play, which begins at the end of September.

The 2017 season ended in heartbreak for the Quinnipiac women’s soccer team. In the MAAC semifinals against Manhattan, the No. 3 seed Bobcats conceded three goals early before entering the half down 3-1. In the second half, Quinnipiac’s leading goal scorer (13) Nadya Gill missed a penalty kick and the Bobcats were unable to recover. The Bobcats scored late in the game to cut the deficit to one, but they couldn’t even it. Gill transferred to West Virginia to play and she will be a huge loss to the program. Luckily for head coach Dave Clarke, he returns his top five point-scorers from last season outside of Gill. The Bobcats were picked second in the MAAC Preseason Poll behind only two-time defending champion Monmouth.

One of the least talked about but most successful programs on campus is the rugby team. Led by head coach Becky Carlson, the Bobcats have won the last three – yes, three!  – national championships. Not MAAC championships, national championships. Despite the loss of six seniors from last years group, it’s hard not see them as a contender again this fall. Among those seniors was center Ilona Maher, who competed in the Rugby World Cup Sevens for Team USA this summer.

Expect the Bobcats to remain one of the top programs in the country and a contender once the NIRA Tournament begins in October. Starting Sept. 1 against Harvard, Quinnipiac plays every Saturday – except for Sept. 22 – until the end of October.

The 2018 season marks the field hockey team’s sophomore year in the Big East conference. Last year, the team compiled a 6-12 overall record with a 3-4 conference record and a finished sixth out of eight teams in the standings. This year has a much different look, with multiple key players lost to graduation last year, such as Montana Fleming, Michelle Federico, Dayna Barlow and Lauren Belskie, as well as losing goaltender Livy Golini to Boston University. However, with 10 freshman coming in and players like Eliza and Ines Ruiz Martinez and Valerie Perkins returning to the field, there is a good mix of veterans and youth on the team.

Tough matchups against Vermont and Boston College have started the team off with a 1-1 record to open the season, but Big East play begins on Sept. 15 at in-state rival UConn. Becca Main’s revamped roster looks to become a bigger force in the Big East.

The volleyball team battled through with multiple injuries to key players last year, but still managed to get to a 10-22 record (9-9 MAAC). After securing the six seed in the MAAC tournament, the Bobcats took Iona to five sets in the quarterfinals, but ultimately fell to the Gaels. While they did lose star hitters like Jen Coffey and Elizabeth Kloos, returning for Kris Czaplinski’s squad is Natalie Alechko, Morgan Sherwin and Maria Pansari, who is third in Quinnipiac volleyball history in assists with 2,421. After going 0-3 in the Army Invitational, the Bobcats have a handful more of non-conference matchups before getting MAAC play underway on Sept. 5 against Rider. While the team may be young with only one senior in Kat Miller, many of those underclassmen got a lot of experience last year and that experience should carry over into this season.

The women’s and men’s cross country teams saw opposite results last year. The women’s team paced their way to a third place finish at the MAAC Championship, with three of their racers finishing in the top 10. However, their top runners in Kaleigh Wolff and Emily Roberts both graduated. The men’s team didn’t find as much success, finishing eighth at the MAAC Championship. Standout runner Ryan Ansel will return this year after leading the team last year. Both teams begin their season at the Stony Brook Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 2. The women will try and find replacements for their graduates and the men will rely on their returning runners to improve from last year.

The fall season lasts until mid-November for most of these teams, with the potential to go even further depending on their postseason success. Stay tuned with The Chronicle for updates throughout the season.

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