WEST HAVEN, Conn. – The historic season of the Quinnipiac University men's soccer team came to an unfortunate close on Friday afternoon, as the Bobcats suffered an unsettling loss in penalty kicks to Saint Francis (Pa.) in the NEC Semifinals at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven, Conn. Senior Philip Suprise (Milwaukee, Wis.) kept the Bobcats' hopes alive with an equalizing goal in the second half, but after a 1-1 draw through double overtime, penalty kicks were needed to determine a winner. The Red Flash outlasted the Bobcats, 4-3, in the shootout to earn the right to play on Sunday afternoon for the championship.
With the tie, Quinnipiac concludes its season with a 10-5-3 mark which ties the Division I program record for wins in a single season. Saint Francis (Pa.) moves to 6-7-6 overall and will play Fairleigh Dickinson in the finals, who also advanced on penalty kicks. Due to the inclement weather that forced Friday's games to be moved, please check back at www.northeastconference.org for an exact location on Sunday.
In the shootout, Saint Francis (Pa.) junior Nick Kolarac converted the Red Flash's fourth penalty kick, and senior Daniel Valcicak made two saves as the Red Flash captured their first championship appearance in program history. Valcicak was one of the main reasons the score stayed tied as he put on a spectacular eight-save performance. He made five stops through regulation and three in the second overtime as Quinnipiac outshot the visitors 17-6 for the game.
Despite that lofty shot advantage, it was Saint Francis (Pa.) with the go-ahead goal early on. The Red Flash broke the ice with just 93 seconds elapsed after a failed clearing attempt by the Bobcats in their own zone. Ryan Byers picked off the pass on the 20-yard line, made a quick move to evade a defender and ripped a left-footed shot to the top corner for the goal. It marked his first tally of the season, and it was the fastest goal scored to open an NEC Tournament game since 2006, when Monmouth's Steven Holloway found the back of the net just 1:55 in against Robert Morris.
Resilient all season long, the Bobcats refused to go away and pressed forward in the second half. The wind was a significant factor all day long, as the four teams only scored with the wind at their backs. Quinnipiac cashed in minutes into the second frame, when Suprise received a through-ball from junior Simon Hinde (Canberra, Australia) and moved in on Valcicak. Suprise netted his 26th career goal and brought the first semifinal to a 1-1 draw.
After Suprise's heroics, the game hit a standstill for the rest of the second half and the two overtimes. Penalty kicks were needed to determine the winner, a tie-breaker that could go either way. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the Red Flash prevailed, 4-3, eliminating Quinnipiac from the NEC Tournament and concluding the Bobcats' campaign.
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