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Quinnipiac men’s soccer outlasts Albany, 2-1, in overtime
“Obviously we know that we have a difficult schedule, that we were contending with this year,” Quinnipiac’s head coach Eric Da Costa said. “Really proud of the way the boys continue to battle and compete.”
The first half was a defensive showdown on both sides of the pitch highlighted by some big-time saves by sophomore goalkeeper Jared Mazzola. There were several near-miss chances on both ends, but only one shot would manage to reach the back of the net before halftime. In the 45th minute, a junior midfielder, Romain Daniellou, finished off a perfectly placed cross from the senior midfielder, Matthew Taylor.
Before the start of Saturday’s game, the only player to finish off a scoring chance was leading goal scorer Eamon Whelan. The Connecticut native junior forward leads the team with four goals. After netting the go-ahead goal, the Bobcats headed to the locker room with confidence and momentum.
The Bobcats’ confidence impaired their game for a few minutes to start the second half. Several turnovers led to multiple scoring opportunities for the Great Danes. Albany dominated play for the first 15 minutes of the second half, eventually resulting in the game-tying goal coming off of another header, fed by another strong cross.
“I thought it was a really bad goal,” Da Costa said. “It’s something that we’ve been working on all year, defending that back post. In that situation, it’s a 50-50 ball, and we have to go up and get it.”
Albany’s Reid Conde, a junior midfielder, sped up the right side of the field and booted the ball towards the goalie box towards senior forward Nico Solabarrieta, who drove his head through the ball into the net to tie the game up early in the second half. Solabarrieta played a strong game, creating several prime scoring opportunities.
Following the goal, both teams found soft spots in the defense and attempted to take the lead. The effort made to score without any success created some tension on both sides.
Three yellow cards were called – one on Quinnipiac’s Conor McCoy, a junior defenseman, and two on Albany’s squad. Albany’s sophomore midfielder, Shane Devine, received a yellow card in the middle of the second half, but the second yellow card for Albany, administered to sophomore defender Riccardo Iafrate, late into the first half of overtime proved to be crucial in the outcome of the game.
On the ensuing free kick, only a few yards from the box, Quinnipiac’s sophomore midfielder Paulo Soares put some serious spin on his kick. Oriac Vila Rotxes, a freshman midfielder for the Bobcats, flew into the box to meet the ball with his head and somehow found its way into the goal after Albany senior goalie, Danny Vitiello, got his hand on the ball.
It was a mad scramble to celebrate as goalie Jared Mazzola used his remaining energy sprinting to the opposite side of the field.
“There are really no words, but if you watch the game, when we scored, I probably ran like three seconds all the way to the other side of the field”, Mazzola excitingly said after the contest.
Before today’s game, Vila Rotxes had only played seven total minutes during the season, but today played key minutes, even starting the overtime period.
“We know what he’s capable of, Oriac is a really good player but he’s making the adjustment,” Da Costa said. “You know, we picked him up really late in the process, so everything’s really accelerated for him.”
Quinnipiac has two more games this week before it faces off against the MAAC, hoping to improve its record against Lafayette on Tuesday and Central Connecticut State on Friday.