Any questions as to whether the Duquesne women’s soccer team would be down after two losses to power-five programs were quickly answered with relentless energy which tired out Jacksonville.
As Duquesne was sustaining meaningful possessions, Jacksonville keeper Brittany Hundley was assessed a red card in the 21st minute, just prior to a penalty kick, meaning there would be a change in goal prior to senior midfielder Casey Aunkst even toeing the soccer ball.
Duquesne would score three second-half goals within the first 11 minutes of play resuming earning a 3-0 victory Friday night, and improving to 1-2-0 on the young season.
“It was important for us to come back and show the type of soccer we really can play,” Duquesne women’s soccer coach Al Alvine said. “I think you saw that tonight. We dominated the game from start to finish. Even before they had a player sent off, we were really asking them a lot of questions. It was good to score three goals and not concede any.”
Duquesne outshot Jacksonville 24-6 on the match and 17 of those 24 shots were on goal, which kept the Dolphins on the defensive.
Lauren Bell scored the first goal in the 47th minute and from there Duquesne was seemingly clinical in both its offensive and defensive efforts.
“Once we got the first one, our offense picked up and we had a confidence boost,” Duquesne senior keeper Kyra Murphy said. “The goalie played well overall but you could say we got in her head, we got in all of their heads and they played down a man. We scored three minutes into the half and that definitely has an impact on a tired team.”
A perfect example of Duquesne’s advantage in play occurred three minutes after the first goal when sophomore midfielder Deena DeBaldo fired a shot on goal that took a big bounce. Jacksonville’s backup keeper Kristian Shores, took a big step forward to play the ball but got caught and could only helplessly watch the ball find the back of the net.
Freshman midfielder Hannah Nguyen rounded out the scoring, achieving her first career goal in the 56th minute.
“It was good soccer, we connected on a lot of passes, created a lot of chances which was a real goal for us after last weekend,” said Alvine. “Obviously the teams we played were very good, but we like to think of ourselves as an attacking team that creates chances and it was nice to put that on display at home.”
Alvine stated during the preseason that several freshmen would be expected to immediately contribute and four were in the lineup with Nguyen, midfielder Alex Saturni, defender Kayla Winicki and midfielder turned left back Sarah Wilkinson.
All four provided steady play throughout the contest.
“Those freshmen have been asked to step up and play a major role have been fantastic,” he said. “I can name all of the freshmen because they are stepping up and contributing. Not having Katie O’Connor right now, our all-time leading goal scorer, is a big void to fill, so I think we had some kids step up tonight.”
As far as O’Connor is concerned, she did not dress for this contest, though Alvine did state there was a chance she could play some minutes Sunday night at Ohio State. Still, his priority is making sure she is ready to go for conference play, which he considers more important.
In net, Murphy earned her 21st career shutout, which ties the program record set by Kelly O’Neill, who played for the Dukes from 1995-98.
“I think the program has really turned around, starting with my class and each class that has come in since,” said Murphy. “I didn’t even realize I had tied it tonight but it’s cool to hear.”
Duquesne next travels to Columbus, OH to face Ohio State in a contest slated for a 7 p.m. start. The Buckeyes were 15-1-5 a season ago, but are off to a 1-2-0 start this season.
Alvine believes the Dukes have hit their highpoint thus far in the season and it is hard to disagree with that.
“How can it not be,” he asked. “We scored three goals and created a ton of chances. It’s good for the psyche and for the players confidence. We needed a game like this after last weekend and they got it.”