(Photo Courtesy of Quinnipiac Athletics)
In the fall of 2018, Mason Poli was named the interim head coach of the Quinnipiac Bobcats following the firing of Eric Fekete, which was the result of a hazing scandal that suspended the team for fall and prohibited all seniors from playing in the first five games of the season.
But despite the circumstances that Poli took over, he was able to put this program back on track and sustain the success that they had enjoyed over the past few seasons. Quinnipiac went 9-7 and fell in the MAAC title game to Marist. Subsequently, Poli had the interim tag lifted and was named the Bobcats’ full head coach early that summer.
While Poli’s interim year couldn’t be defined as anything but a success, his first year as the full head coach at Quinnipiac was much, much different. With a younger-ish roster than the year prior, the Bobcats went 0-6 before the season was cancelled due to the Coronavirus. And while having a winless season, even if only part of the season is played, is never something that anyone enjoys, but the bottom falling out after one or multiple successful seasons isn’t anything unusual for this program.
In 2009, 2012, and 2017 the Bobcats had losing seasons following multiple winning seasons, including a 2016 run that saw them win the MAAC and make their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. While this trend did take route during the Feteke era, the Bobcat faithful have to hope that it will reappear again very soon. And soon could very well mean the 2021 season, where the Bobcats will return almost every single starter and multiple key role players from last years’ squad.
During the 2020 season, the Bobcats ranked 59th in scoring offense (9.33 goals per game), which is in the bottom half of DI. However, they will return all five of their top scorers from last season. With at least six games under their belt together this offense could very well take a step forward and be much more efficient this spring.
Senior attackman Jake Tomisk (11G/6A), who was the MAAC Co-Preseason Player of the Year, is the biggest returner on the offense and team in general. The keys of this offense lie in his hands many times and he will be tasked with being one of the leaders again this coming season. Also returning at attack will be sophomores Jake Tellers (8G/4A) and John DeLucia (8G). Tellers started all six games as a freshman and DeLucia started all five games he saw action in. Both should step up even more next season and contribute more heavily.
At the midfield spot, junior Will Abbott (11G/5A) is their top returner. The Bobcats’ second-leading scorer last season, Abbott will certainly be their primary weapon at the midfield spot and one of their top shooters once again. In addition, A/M Matt Miller (5G/4A), who started five games last season, and senior Hunter Fasanaro (3A) could see more time and production within this offense next season.
At the faceoff dot, sophomore George Demitri will be returning and should be their primary guy at that spot once again.
Similarly to the situation on the offensive end of the field, the Bobcats were in the second half of DI as far as scoring defense last season and returns a heap of their impact players, including junior goalie Nick DiMuccio. A two-year starter, DiMuccio put up a 47% save percentage last season and looks to anchor this defense in cage once again in 2021, and get back to the level of play he showed as a freshman when he posted a .524 save percentage and was a MAAC All-Rookie team selection.
Out in front of the cage, the Bobcats return all three of their top poles. Senior Matt Di Lella (16GB/6CT) was their most disruptive pole last season and led the squad in caused turnovers. They will also see junior Devin Naidoo (3GB/4CT and Matthew Federico (5GB/3CT, who started in four of the five games he saw action in, return. Freshman defenseman Boyd Hall (4GB/3CT), who saw action and started in two games, and junior LSM CJ Gallagher (6GB/3CT) will also be returning this spring and will be looking to make much bigger impacts.
All in all, this Quinnipiac squad wasn’t too far behind most of their competition last season, losing by an average of 4.4 goals if you take out their 20-9 defeat against a No. 16-ranked Rutgers squad. But in order for them to ultimately close that gap in 2021 and have the bounce-back season that many believe they could, their defense must improve as a whole and their offense will need to see a bigger chunk of guys step up and contribute. If that happens, 2021 could be a pretty solid season for Quinnipiac.