Great teams take their game to another level when they need to.
The Marist women’s soccer team watched a 0-0 halftime scoreline turn into a dispiriting 4-0 Quinnipiac rout on Wednesday at Tenney Stadium as the Bobcats pulled away in a game that they controlled from the opening kickoff.
“It’s tough because it was two different 45-minute halves,” Marist head coach Brittany Kolmel said. “We were able to execute our game plan for 45 minutes, but it’s definitely mixed emotions.”
Quinnipiac got off to a strong start, as they were controlling the possession and creating chances. Marist graduate student goalkeeper Natalie Kelchner was forced into action in the fifth minute when junior forward/midfielder Rebecca Cooke fired a shot from outside the box. Cooke, the leading scorer in the NCAA this season with 16 goals, was kept in check in the first half.
Marist senior defender Samantha Sturno was excellent in the first half, and she helped limit Cooke. Sturno won duels with Cooke every time they were matched up. Both teams were physical and the referees allowed for the game to be chippy. Kolmel was unhappy with the officiating in the first half and was voicing her frustration with the referees.
“I always love a good challenge, she’s someone that’s tough to go against,” senior defender Samantha Sturno said. “I just need to be better and not allow any goals next time.”
Quinnipiac dominated the offensive statistics in the opening half as they outshot Marist 17-0, and they had five shots on goal compared to zero for the Red Foxes. Marist was unable to create anything in the final third, and they struggled to string multiple passes together. Kelchner was able to keep the Red Foxes in it with five saves in the opening half, including a save on Quinnipiac senior forward Paige Laberge in the 19th minute. Laberge would add a shot off the crossbar in the 28th minute, but both teams entered the half tied 0-0.
“It’s a great experience for us, we have flexibility with what we can do,” Kolmel said. We only had two days of preparation, so it’s a credit to them for being able to execute.”
The Bobcats took their game to another level in the second half, and they got the breakthrough early. In the 49th minute, senior defender Kayla Mingachos scored on a loose ball as she struck a volley past Kelchner for an unassisted goal. Quinnipiac controlled the possession and showed their championship pedigree in the second half.
“We are still young, that’s a team that has the ability to take it to another level,” Kolmel said. “We can’t be too narrow-minded to not learn from this.”
Quinnipiac would add another goal in the 59th minute as graduate student defender Emily Denunzio tapped in a goal which resulted from a poor clearance attempt. Kelchner was unable to get to the shot in time as Quinnipiac extended its lead. Marist struggled to respond following the two goals, and they ran out of gas as the half progressed. The Red Foxes only shot on goal came in the 71st minute on a free-kick from Sturno.
“We just have to find the open people and switches,” Sturno said. “We just have to put our opportunities away that we are getting.”
Kelchner tried her best to keep Marist in the game as she made one of her nine saves in the 73rd minute on a shot from Quinnipiac freshman forward Milena Branco. But the Bobcats were just too much and soon found a third in the 79th minute as freshman forward Morgan Cupo tapped home a finish on a pass from junior midfielder Olivia Kudrikow. Cooke would add her NCAA-leading 17th goal of the season to cap off the second half for Quinnipiac in the 88th minute on a low shot from outside of the box.
Marist drops to 3-4-4 on the season and 1-3-1 in conference play. The Red Foxes can take positives from this game, but they still have more to improve on if they want to reach the level of the top team in the MAAC. The Red Foxes have work to do as they currently sit in 8th place in the MAAC standings. Although they failed to get revenge from last season’s loss in the MAAC Playoffs, they can turn their season around.
“This result does not make or break our season. That’s what I said to our team,” Kolmel said. “Now we need to take it one game at a time and improve on our weaknesses.”
“I think coming off a loss like this will help us in a way,” Sturno said. “We need to bring the energy and take the negative things and turn them into a positive.”
Marist will look to get back on track as they travel to Loudonville to take on Siena on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 1 p.m.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Jonathan Kinane