By Robin Schuppert
HAMDEN – Unceasing rain flooded the Bobcats soccer field on Sunday afternoon, and by the end, it was the closest thing to having a pool at Quinnipiac.
Freshman Jillian Strassner scored once and had two assists to help lead the Quinnipiac women’s soccer team past Wagner College 4-2. The win moves the Bobcats to third place in the Northeast Conference, where the top four teams make it to the NEC tournament.
“This has been a tremendous week for us,” said Bobcats head coach Dave Clarke. “We were 1-9-2 in the last three years [in this conference week] and now we picked up three wins and a draw out of this week, so we picked up 10 points out of 12 where we previously picked up five out of 36. So we put ourselves in the driving seat to be where we want to be for the next month.”
Jillian Strassner scored her fourth goal of the season in the 19th minute off a corner from Sophomore Fortuna Velaj. Strassner was in a pack of players just outside the 6-yard box and jumped the highest to head the ball into the top right corner of the goal. Velaj was credited with her sixth assist on the season.
Eight minutes before halftime the Bobcats doubled their lead. Strassner collected her first assist of the season when she stole the ball from a Wagner defender and dropped it off to a wide open Shauna Edwards. The freshman Edwards, just inside the 18-yard box, shot a low ball that went off the goalie Jen Emigholz’s hands and rolled into the lower left corner of the goal. Edwards picked up her second goal of the season.
The Bobcats kept their foot on the pedal in the second half and scored a goal just five minutes into the half. This time Strassner charged down the left side of the field and crossed a ball into the middle of the box. Senior Amber Sidoti just had to tap the ball into the back of the net for her first goal of the season. It was Strassner’s second assist of the game.
In the 61st minute the Seahawks got some help from the weather to cut the deficit to 3-1. Monica Zurich sent a harmless looking ball up field just out of the reach of Briana Vassallo. The Bobcats goalie Elizabeth Cook kneeled down to collect the ball, but had it slip out of her hands. Vassallo was the first to recover and pushed the ball into the lower left corner of the goal.
13 minutes later Vassallo connected for her second goal of the game to cut the Bobcats lead to one. This time Julie Vigliotti sent a ball from midfield down the left side to a charging Vassallo. The junior forward ran inside the box and drilled the ball into the top left corner to beat Cook.
The Bobcats didn’t seem shocked and scored the final goal a minute later in the 75th minute. Fortuna Velaj curved a nice cross from the right side into the box that was originally caught by Wagner’s goalie. Emigholz couldn’t hold on to the wet ball and it dropped right in front of the feet of senior Lindsay Oliveri. Oliveri kicked the ball into the bottom left corner for the 4-2 final. It was her first career goal, and Velaj picked up her team leading seventh assist.
The Bobcats had a season high 29 shots and won for the fourth time in their last five games. They improve to 5-5-1 overall, and 4-1-1 in the NEC.
Wagner registered 9 shots in the loss and drops to 1-12-2 overall and 0-6-1 in the NEC.
Elizabeth Cook recorded 3 saves and improved to 4-0-1 since winning the starting job for the Bobcats.
“I knew she had potential. It was more of a tactical change in terms of bringing her in ahead of Kendra [Margulies], who had done well. It was because of the games against Sacred Heart on turf that Biz placed a little bit higher. It’s worked out well,” said Clarke.
On the other side, Jen Emigholz recorded 11 saves in a losing effort.
The Bobcats now have 13 points in the NEC, three points behind Monmouth and Central Connecticut State University for first place.
Next weekend the Bobcats will go on road for their final two road games of the regular season. They will take on Mount St. Mary’s on Friday, October 23 at 7 p.m. On Sunday, October 25 they will take on Monmouth at 1 p.m.