By Jamie Palatini
(HAMDEN, Conn.) – Freshman Durval Pereira scored his fourth goal of the season, and Graciano Brito added a late insurance goal in the second half, as Quinnipiac beat intrastate rival Sacred Heart 2-0 in Hamden on Sunday afternoon. With the win, Quinnipiac improves to 7-4-2 overall and 2-2 in the Northeast Conference. The loss drops Sacred Heart to 3-6-1 overall and 1-2 in the NEC.
Pereira’s goal came just 10 minutes into the game. Brito turned past a Pioneer defenseman and dribbled in towards the Sacred Heart goal. He then passed to Pereira as he came to the right corner of the 18 yard box, and his shot beat Sacred Heart goalkeeper Matt Jones to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead.
Sacred Heart had a multitude of opportunities to score in the first half, and at one point the Pioneers attempted six corner kicks in a two minute span. However, Quinnipiac keeper Freddy Hall and the Bobcats’ defense held strong and kept Sacred Heart off the scoreboard. Bobcats head coach Eric Da Costa was impressed with his team’s resiliency in the first half.
“We had to absorb some pressure in the first half, and being able to get a goal against the wind definitely made things a little bit easier for us,” Da Costa said. “I was happy with how we kept our composure.”
Quinnipiac held on to that 1-0 lead until late in the second half. Trailing by a goal with time running out, Sacred Heart pushed their players forward in an attempt to score the equalizer but that opened things up for Brito. Johan Karlhagen sent a deep ball for Brito, who corralled the pass by the 18 yard box and scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season to make it a two-goal game.
Prior to Sunday’s game, Quinnipiac had lost their last two conference games. Now, the Bobcats will head into the meat of their conference schedule. Da Costa recognized how important this win was for the team’s psyche, and was quick to credit the defense.
“Coming off of two defeats, we needed a little bit extra incentive to motivate the boys,” Da Costa said. “If we’re going to win a championship, it has to be on the back of our defenders and our team defense. Obviously, all the credit goes out to the back four and the goalkeeper for all the work they did.”
Hall made three saves to earn his fourth shutout of the season for the Bobcats. Jones made three saves in the loss for Sacred Heart.
Quinnipiac will look to build off of this win when they host NEC rival Central Connecticut State University next Sunday. The game will be broadcast live on the WQAQ sports stream, and kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.