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Former Quinnipiac standout Eric Da Costa enters his ninth season as head coach of the Bobcats, tying him as the longest tenured men's soccer head coach in Quinnipiac's NCAA history.
A product of Quinnipiac's strong soccer tradition, Da Costa’s formula for success and his reputation for assembling winning teams are evident after eight seasons at his alma mater. In his most recent campaign, the charismatic Bobcat leader guided his team to the program’s first-ever regular season title and a chance to host the Northeast Conference Tournament. It marked the third time in the last five years that Quinnipiac has made a postseason appearance.
Da Costa took over the Bobcats’ program prior to the 2005 campaign after a brief stint with the Post University men’s soccer program. Since taking over eight years ago, the Bobcats have averaged more wins per season at the Division I level than the initial seven seasons when admitted to the NCAA’s highest tier. This includes three trips to the NEC Tournament back in 2008 and 2009, and most recently in 2012.
In addition to his success on the pitch this past year, Da Costa also helped create “Soccer Night in Newtown”, a fundraiser and relief effort for children in the Newtown community. Following the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook, Da Costa and Chris Canetti, President of the Houston Dynamo and former QU baseball player, hosted a night of fun and games at the Newtown Youth Academy Sports & Fitness Center in Newtown. Members of the men's and women's soccer programs and several former and current soccer stars, which included the likes of Landon Donovan, Mia Hamm, Christine Lilly, Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas and Brian Ching, participated in the event that attracted nearly 1,500 people.
Da Costa was named the Northeast Conference Coach of the Year for his efforts in 2012. Quinnipiac went 10-5-2 overall which was the marked the second highest win total all-time and tied the most wins in a single-season through the Division I era.
Along with the team’s success, Quinnipiac received several individual laurels as well. Philip Suprise was rewarded with All-Conference laurels for a fourth straight year, while two others – Robbie McLarney and William Daniels – were tabbed to the NEC’s Second Team. Over the last three years alone, seven Bobcats have earned accolades at season’s end.
Under Da Costa’s leadership in 2009, the Bobcats returned to the NEC Tournament for the second consecutive season, earning the program’s first bid to the tournament championship game. Quinnipiac finished the regular season with a 9-4-7 overall record and a 6-2-2 conference mark.
Senior goalkeeper Freddy Hall was named to the All-NEC First Team, and was recognized as part of the 2009 Adidas National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-North Atlantic Regional Second Team. Hall recorded the most saves in NCAA play, turning away 121 shots, and posted the third best save percentage in the nation (.883). The St. George, Bermuda native signed a Major League Soccer (MLS) contract with Toronto F.C. in July, 2012 – becoming the first Bobcat to sign an MLS contract.
In 2008, Da Costa guided the Bobcats to the NEC Tournament for the first time since the 2004 season as the team posted a 10-5-4 record. Quinnipiac finished in a two-way tie for third place in the league standings, after compiling a 5-2-2 record in conference action. Graciano Brito was named to the conference's first team, while second team honors went to Shane Recklet, Fabricio Silva and Freddy Hall.
For a second straight season, Brito led the NEC in scoring and goals, while also ranking nationally in both categories. For his play during his senior season, Brito was named the NEC Player of the Year, becoming just the fifth player in league history to be honored in consecutive seasons as the NEC’s top player. His play also earned him a spot on the NSCAA/Adidas All-America Team for the second year in a row. Brito also was honored as Quinnipiac's Male Athlete of the Year, an honor he also claimed as a junior.
The 2007 season saw Da Costa's Bobcats jump out to the best start in program and NEC history as they began the season 9-0-1 in their first 10 games. The highlight of the season was on Sept. 3 when the Bobcats travelled to Chestnut Hill and defeated the Boston College Eagles, 2-1. Da Costa produced two of the conference's top players in Brito and Hall.
Under the guidance of Da Costa, Brito was named to the NSCAA/Adidas All-America Second Team, in addition to his NEC Player of the Year and Quinnipiac's Male Athlete of the Year awards. Hall led the nation in save percentage and saves per game with the help of Da Costa's coaching during the 2007 season. Danilo Schiavon and Ross McGibney were also honored in 2007 as members of the All-NEC and All-region Teams.
Accolades were not reserved just for his players in 2007, however. Da Costa was selected as the NSCAA/Adidas North Atlantic Division I Coach of the Year in just his third season as the Bobcats' coach as well as being named a finalist for the NSCAA/Adidas Division I National Coach of the Year.
In his first season at the helm, the Bobcats finished with an overall record of 6-11-1. He won his first NEC game over CCSU on Oct. 9 by a score of 2-1. From there, he kept his team in the running for the four-team NEC Tournament throughout the season. Other big wins came over traditional New England power Hartford and Columbia University of the Ivy League.
Da Costa also produced an All-NEC player in his inaugural season as the Bobcats' head coach. Francis Mavula, who served as a co-captain in 2006, was named to the All-NEC Second Team after finishing with seven goals, 17 points, and four game-winning goals, all career highs.
A native of New Bedford, Mass., Da Costa was a four-year starter for Quinnipiac and served as team captain in his junior and senior seasons. In his defensive role, he helped Quinnipiac to several impressive seasons, including an excellent 2000 campaign in which the Bobcats beat the nationally ranked No. 12 UMBC and reached the Northeast Conference tournament for the first time in program history.
Da Costa graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Management (2001) and a Master’s Degree in Management (2003). Da Costa played soccer professionally for two seasons beginning his career with the Connecticut Wolves in 2002. He then enjoyed a brief training stint with the 2002 Major League Soccer Semifinalist New England Revolution as well as a year with the Western Massachusetts Pioneers. He also enjoyed two seasons in the Professional Indoor Soccer Leagues with both the Massachusetts Twisters (2002) and the Connecticut Academica F.C. (2003).
Previously, Da Costa was the head boys' soccer coach at New Milford (Conn.) High in 2002. While at New Milford he produced three All-League players, one All-State player and guided his team to a state tournament appearance.