HAMDEN, Conn. – Quinnipiac University women's soccer head coach Dave Clarke has repeatedly said that his goal for the program is to be playing a meaningful game on the final weekend of the regular season. By that, he means that the Bobcats are still in the hunt for the Northeast Conference Tournament as they take the field on that day.
With a win and some help around the league, Quinnipiac's final game of the season had plenty of meaning. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, some key injuries throughout the year and a difficult schedule in October left Quinnipiac on the outside looking in for the NEC Tournament. It was a tough way to see the season come to an end; but it did nothing to diminish another successful campaign for the Bobcats women's soccer team. Quinnipiac went 9-6-2 overall and 5-4-1 in the Northeast Conference - making it three out of the last four seasons with a winning record in NEC competition.
"I thought we started the season really well and had some significant wins that deservedly earned the team regional recognition," said Clarke. "However, I am disappointed in the fact we did not qualify for the NEC Tournament as that was the main goal for the season. The disappointment is compounded by the fact we also got off to a great start in league play."
Quinnipiac garnered its most wins since the 2007 season and its highest winning percentage since the 2001 campaign. The senior-laden Bobcats raced out of the gates and boasted the program's best-ever start through five games with a 4-0-1 record. Due in large part to its high-octane defensive pressure, Quinnipiac posted four shutouts during the stretch – a stretch that included wins over Big East foe Providence, Vermont, Holy Cross and Hartford.
The Bobcats then surrendered two straight to Harvard and Siena, but bounced back when it mattered most in conference play. Quinnipiac went 3-1-1 over its next five games, beginning with back-to-back wins over FDU and CCSU at the QU Soccer Field. The Bobcats then played LIU Brooklyn, the eventual 2012 NEC Tournament Champion, to a scoreless draw; lost to the second-seeded Monmouth Hawks, 1-0; and concluded the stretch with a 4-1 win at Wagner on October 5, 2012.
Hovering around the fourth seed and a playoff bid, injuries finally caught up to the Bobcats. Quinnipiac went 1-2 through its next three games – forcing a must-win weekend to stay alive. QU snatched a win against Robert Morris on Friday, October 26, but suffered a 2-1 loss to the NEC's No. 1 seed Saint Francis (Pa.) on Sunday. The loss eliminated the Bobcats from playoff contention and concluded their 2012 season.
The 2012 roster featured a group of 10 talented seniors that will be missed for seasons to come. Seniors Shauna Edwards (Southington, Conn.) and Jill Kelley (Simsbury, Conn.) wrapped up stellar four-year careers with Quinnipiac and will remain in the record-books for quite some time.
At the end of the season, Edwards was recognized by the Northeast Conference and NSCAA for her efforts on the field. Primarily in a midfield or defensive role, Edwards managed to lead the team with eight points at the strength of two goals and four assists on the season. She particularly came on strong at the end of the campaign where she registered six points in the final six games. The season concluded a remarkable career with the Bobcats' women's soccer program. During her four-year stint, she recorded 59 appearances, most of them in a starting role, scored eight goals and added 10 assists for a total of 26 points.
Kelley was recognized by the Northeast Conference three times as Defender of the Week during her final campaign. The Bobcats surrendered just 13 goals all season, the lowest total since the 1994 season, only 11 coming when Kelley was in net. She posted a microscopic 0.79 goals against average and a tremendous 0.807 save percentage. She concluded her career with 26 wins and 18 shutouts in Bobcats' uniform – both ranking her top five all-time in program history. Kelley also tied for fourth in the NEC for shutouts in her final campaign.
Replacing 10 seniors for the 2013 season will be a challenge for Coach Clarke, but one that he has already started preparing for. Quinnipiac returns several players to next year's squad, including defenders Beck Kiting (Canberra, Australia) and Aine McKeever (Derry City, Ireland) who will be back for their senior seasons.
"I have already started planning for the 2013 season, but my only wish is for an injury-free season," said Clarke. "Injuries to key players have had a detrimental impact on our 2011 and 2012 seasons and I just want to see what we can accomplish with a full strength squad."
Quinnipiac fans should refer to the Official Website of Quinnipiac Athletics, www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com, for any schedule updates as well as the latest news and highlights. When released, the 2013 Quinnipiac Women's Soccer Schedule will be available for download at www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com for all mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads, as well as all desktop computers.
Contact: Tony Distasio; email@example.com