HAMDEN, Conn. – Senior Robbie McLarney (Londonderry, N.H.) connected on a penalty kick in the 79th minute of play on Friday afternoon, as the Quinnipiac University men's soccer team inched closer to a regular-season Northeast Conference Title with a 2-1 win over Central Connecticut at the QU Soccer Field on Mount Carmel Campus. With just one game left on the schedule, the Bobcats sit alone at the top of the NEC standings and control their own destiny on Sunday afternoon.
Quinnipiac (9-5-2) improved to 7-1-1 in the conference with the win, and remains one point ahead of Fairleigh Dickinson in the standings. The winner of their match-up on Sunday afternoon will determine the regular-season champion and the host of the 2012 NEC Championship.
"It felt great," said head coach Eric Da Costa, who just reached the nine-win plateau for the third time in the last six years. "In the position that we were in, playing the number one team, a team that we were tied with at the top of the table and a great rival, it's a tremendous victory for our program. CCSU is a very tough opponent and I'm very proud of our boys."
The first half featured two great scoring opportunities, both created by the hosting Bobcats. Just 10 minutes into the game, one of the game's heroes, William Daniels (Clackamas, Ore.), brought the crowd to its feet with a spectacular effort inside the six-yard box. Senior Philip Suprise (Milwaukee, Wis.) carried the ball down the right side of the field and whipped a low cross into the middle of the penalty area. Daniels dashed to the near post and used a crafty flick in attempt to beat CCSU goalkeeper Anthony Occhialini. Unfortunately the shot skirmished wide to the right, but created a bit of momentum for Quinnipiac's offense.
The Bobcats would fare better on their second chance, where Daniels broke the deadlock with a remarkable goal in the 25th minute. Senior Robbie McLarney (Londonderry, N.H.) collected the ball outside of the 18-yard box and found Simon Hinde (Canberra, Australia) just to the left of him. Hinde saw Daniels out of the corner his eye, laid the ball off perfectly and let the senior forward do the rest. Daniels hit an absolute laser into the top-left corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead and a goal he will never forget.
The first half came to a close and set up a thrilling 45 minutes to follow. CCSU, now 8-7-2 overall, 6-2-1 in league play, came out firing in the second half of competition. Evidenced by nine corners in the stanza, the Blue Devils peppered the Bobcats' defense and finally broke through in the 73rd minute. Ben Knight served a cross into the penalty area which found the head of senior Steven Bailey. Bailey's one-time blast left Borja Angoitia (Bilbao, Spain) helpless and crossed the goal line for the equalizer.
As they have done all season long though, a relentless Bobcats' attack would not go away, only to pay dividends just minutes later. Quinnipiac pressed forwarded deep into the CCSU zone and was awarded a penalty kick after the ball struck the arm of a CCSU defender. McLarney calmly stepped up to the ball and beat Occhialini for what proved to be the game-winner. Quinnipiac fended off late pressure from the Blue Devils and stormed the field at the sound of the final whistle.
Quinnipiac's defense was stellar once again due in large part to the play of its sophomore goalkeeper. Angoitia made five saves in the match and picked up his ninth win of the season and 15th of his career. Occhialini made four saves in the losing effort.
The Bobcats, currently riding a five-game winning streak, improved to 12-4 all-time against the Blue Devils, an intrastate rivalry that dates back to the 1998 campaign. Quinnipiac is undefeated over the last six meetings between the two, and moved to 5-3 on Mount Carmel Campus.
Sunday's meeting between the Bobcats and the Knights is scheduled for 1 p.m. on the QU Soccer Field. Prior to kickoff, Quinnipiac will honor its seven senior class members for their career accomplishments.
Quinnipiac fans should refer to the Official Website of Quinnipiac Athletics, www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com, for any schedule changes as well as the latest news, scores and highlights. The 2012 Quinnipiac Men's Soccer Schedule is also available for download at www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com for all mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads, as well as all desktop computers.
Contact: Tony Distasio; firstname.lastname@example.org