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Former Quinnipiac standout Eric Da Costa enters his 10th season at the helm of the Bobcats men’s soccer program, becoming the longest tenured men’s soccer 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 nine seasons at his alma mater. Da Costa has a 64-66-33 (.495) record during his time at Quinnipiac, with the program really hitting stride over the last two seasons. The team is 19-10-10 since the beginning of 2012.
In 2013, the team’s first year as a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), Da Costa led the Bobcats to the conference title and an NCAA tournament berth – marking firsts for both in program history. Quinnipiac went 7-1-2 in conference play and ended their campaign tied atop the regular season standings. The Bobcats went on to play nationally ranked (at the time) No. 10 UConn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, suffering a mere 2-1 loss to conclude the season.
Under Da Costa’s tutelage, Quinnipiac named six players to All-Conference last season – headlined by MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year Borja Angoitia. Simon Hinde and Tobias Esche joined Angoitia on the All-MAAC First Team, while Machel Baker and Sam Nicol earned a spot on the MAAC's Second Team. James Doig stood aside Esche on the All-Rookie Team as well.
Since taking over 10 years ago, the Bobcats have averaged more wins per season at the Division I level than the initial nine seasons when admitted to the NCAA’s highest tier. This includes three trips to the Northeast Conference Tournament back in 2008, 2009 and 2012. The 2012 season featured the program’s first NEC Regular-Season Title and hosting the conference tournament.
Da Costa was tabbed the Rising Star by Business New Haven in August of 2014 and named the Northeast Conference Coach of the Year for his efforts in 2012. Quinnipiac went 10-5-2 overall that year 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.
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.
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).