From the opening kick of last Friday’s season opener, the Duquesne men’s soccer tried to create an identity against Marshall but the first three minutes ended up determining the final tally and ultimately a loss.
“We created chances on the road against a Conference USA team, so I feel good about the 87 minutes we put together, we just have to get the other three,” Duquesne men’s soccer coach Chase Brooks said. “That’s really what it comes down to. I think we learned a lot about each other and fought until the very end, which is a very good sign. This weekend is building on the momentum we generated there.”
Still Brooks believes his team was reminded a valuable lesson in the 1-0 defeat, one which he opines was closer than the final stats indicated.
“It’s like the old Mike Tyson quote ‘everything is great with your game plan until you get punched in the face’,” he explained. “Marshall hit us first and we have to become the team that does the hitting first.”
Duquesne will have its first opportunity to do just that Friday night in a contest against Northern Kentucky at Rooney Field.
Brooks was encouraged that his team remained in the fight after letting up a goal, something he felt last year’s team might not have been able to do.
Coming into the season, Brooks seemed to have a first team set in place, one which included six freshman in defender/midfielder Nathan Dossantos, midfielder/forward Gylfi Stefansson, forward Manel Busquets, forward Eric Zech, defender Moritz Kappelsberger and defender/midfielder Rob Dymond.
“We started six freshmen against Marshall and that was another nice thing to see,” said Brooks. “The way they responded to being down a goal on the road was a good sign. Overall it’s just a good group of guys. The freshmen group have come in and acclimated well. They’re working their butts off and they’re learning. The returners have taken the freshmen under their wings and we’re moving forward together, which is a great sign to see.”
The one uncertainty earlier in the season was the keeper situation as no starter was officially named, but it was redshirt junior Robbie McKelvey who earned the honors. The Dublin, Ohio native was the starter for most of last season as well.
“The nice thing about Robbie is that he has the experience from last year, he’s a fighter and a gamer of sorts,” Brooks said. “I know exactly what we’re going to get from Robbie and that’s why we ultimately went with him. I think everybody on our team knows that no position is safe and every job is on the line, but Robbie is our guy and we’re moving forward with him.”
As far as Northern Kentucky is concerned, it has started the season 2-0 with two 3-2 victories, one at Bowling Green and a home win against Canisius.
Northern Kentucky is paced by freshman forward midfielder Alex Willis who has a team-leading seven points.
“We literally scoured the globe to be able to find a striker of Alex’s prominence, and I am absolutely delighted that Norse fans will get to see him play for our side this fall and beyond,” Northern Kentucky coach Stu Riddle said on the team’s website. “I fully expect him to come in and hit the ground running and be someone who will turn heads with his statistics right away. To score over 500 goals during a 12-year period with a club like Charlton Athletic is mind-blowing, and I am excited to see him score many more in an NKU shirt.”
Brooks maintains that Duquesne has done its homework on the Norse but that the focus is more on imposing on others, especially at home.
This contest is the first of five straight tilts at Rooney Field and Duquesne will not leave the area until a Sept. 22 road game at Oakland.
As a coach, Brooks understands that there are times where it is good for his team to be away home, but this stretch is not one of those instances.
“It’s a chance for us to have stability and continuity we can build into the team,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to try and turn Rooney Field into what we want it to be, a tough place to play. When teams come to Rooney we want them to know they are in a fight for 90 minutes. It’s nice that we have five games in a row to impose ourselves and create that identity.”