Duquesne overcomes cards, fouls, GW; remains undefeated at Rooney Field
Throughout the non-conference season, Duquesne’s men’s soccer team prides itself on being mentally strong, but in their Atlantic Conference 10 opener on Saturday night against George Washington that was put to the test. test.
It was a busy night for the officials as the two teams combined for 12 yellow cards and 29 fouls, with several extra saves, which could easily throw a team off balance.
Duquesne also got off to a slow start, conceding a goal in the 15th minute, after two Dukes failed to clear the ball outside their area, allowing Demi Amigun to score instead.
“You saw the first three minutes that they had two corners and that makes it difficult to access the ball when you’re not trying to play the ball,” said junior defender Eric Zech. “It’s just hard to get into the game.”
Duquesne was able to elevate his game, control his emotions and open the A-10 roster with a 3-1 win over GW, dropping to 5-2 overall this season.
“We knew it would be an emotional night,” said Duquesne coach Chase Brooks. “GW brings a lot of pressure and is a hard working team. We knew we were going to see him so that was one of the things we talked about before the game and at halftime. I’m incredibly proud of the way the guys have handled their emotions.
Emotions have certainly been turned up a notch since the start of this competition, as bodies were down for both sides, all over the pitch and the coaches of both teams were each carded.
It was clear, even more than ever, given that this was the A-10’s first game for both sides, that there was a will to achieve a positive result.
Second-year midfielder Nate Dragisich believed his team’s non-conference schedule had improved markedly as games progressed, both in terms of play and belief.
It was this conviction that was displayed not only with words, which were spoken by several members of the team, but now with actions, with the contest of Saturday, the last example.
“It’s always important to go at least half-time in the game, which we would have if we were down 1-0,” said Dragisich. “Just being tied at halftime is so much more comfortable for us because if we lead 1-0 then they come with a lot of momentum and conviction. We got this equalizer and ended up believing it more than them. It showed in this second half.
Duquesne will then travel to face enemy Big Ten Michigan State on Tuesday night. Already, the team have faced Pitt and Kentucky in the non-conference.
Despite the setbacks suffered by both, Brooks said there was some optimism against Kentucky, where Duquesne was competitive until he was canceled with a penalty.
Even so, this result adds to a growing confidence that everyone agrees, the team feels they are traveling with the belief that they will achieve a positive result.
“We’re winning the games we’re supposed to win and that’s what matters right now,” Brooks said. “It’s learning in these games where we can be the underdogs and I think tonight was a step in that direction. GW comes in sixth pre-season in the conference and we were 10th in pre-season.e. Taking the results home is a big step forward.
After conceding the first goal, Duquesne immediately returned to the drawing board and a minute later Ryan Goodhew put his head on a ball inside the box, but his shot gently deflected towards the GW goalkeeper Justin Grady.
Still, the streak got the sideline up and that was enough to bring belief back to the Duquesne side.
Duquesne got several more looks with his breakthrough as senior captain Ryan Landry hit the near post and junior midfielder Logan Muck cleaned up the rebound for his second goal of the season.
The bench erupted with this positive result and the celebration continued in that direction as Duquesne equalized the game before half-time which gave clear momentum.
It took less than four minutes to determine if Duquesne would retain that advantage in the second half, when Goodhew scored his third goal of the year.
The Dukes had one more when Landry and Jayden Da assisted in Zach Mowka’s third goal of the year, clinically setting him up for success. To celebrate, Mowka was lifted off the pitch by a teammate.
“I think that’s pretty much everyone on the team,” Brooks said of his team’s selfless play. “That’s what it takes to compete at the top of the conference and win championships. It’s a whole team going in the right direction. Even if you have a guy or two walking away, it’s detrimental. It’s good to see the guys preparing for goals and sacrificing in defense.
Another part of Duquesne’s conviction is his obvious ease in defending his home at Rooney Field, where the Dukes are perfect 4-0 this season.
Duquesne’s crowd has grown with every game and that only adds to the team’s belief that they can have a successful result.
“We’re 4-0 at home and no opponent is getting points here for sure,” Zech said.