As senior captain Casey Aunkst set up for a penalty kick in the 53rd minute of Sunday afternoon’s contest against Binghamton, she quickly made the determination of where her kick would finish.
Aunkst has consistently taken Duquesne’s penalty kicks and missed her last attempt against Jacksonville. This time, she went low right, beating Binghamton keeper Haylee Polterak.
“Usually you are supposed to stick with one side and place it there every single time because they shouldn’t be able to save it if you tuck it in the right area,” Aunskt said. “Since I missed that last one, I’ve been practicing a lot recently. It’s like a foul shot, it’s easy money, you’re supposed to make it. It irritates me, but you know what? Next play.”
Aunkst’s penalty kick came when senior midfielder Katie O’Connor was fouled in the Binghamton box and the score gave Duquesne some momentum after it failed to capitalize on several different opportunities.
“It felt good for her, it felt good for me,” Duquesne coach Al Alvine said. “She missed the last one we had against Jacksonville, but I always put it up to the player. She’s a kid we have a lot of confidence in and that we trust a lot. If she wants to keep taking them, then we’ll let her keep taking them. Casey changed up her spot a little bit and she scored the game-winning goal. You can never be disappointed about that.”
In a day in which hot air caused two separate water breaks, Aunkst’s tally proved to be the difference in a 1-0 victory which also gave Duquesne senior goalkeeper Kyra Murphy the most shutout wins in program history.
“A win is a win and to get a shutout to give Kyra the record on home turf, you have to take a lot of positives,” said Alvine. “The reality is that we’re going to have to play significantly better than that in the final third if we want to achieve our goals. We weren’t nearly clinical enough in front of the goal and didn’t create enough quality chances. It’s great we can get a win, but we still have a lot of room for improvement, which is a good thing. Games like this on a brutally hot day against a team at the top of it’s conference is good experience heading into Thursday’s game.”
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This game was the first for both O’Connor and freshman forward Brooke Schutter with the former getting a start and 22 minutes and the latter earning 23 minutes off the bench.
Aunkst stated that the pair’s return to the field brings added elements of speed, offense and skill believing when everyone is at full strength the team will be hard to stop up top.
Alvine left the decision as to whether the two would play to his players, both of whom had participated in training throughout the week.
“It was their call and they know their bodies,” said Alvine. “They know what they feel. For them they were ready. Katie looked great out there for the time she was in there. She kind of took a knock on the penalty call, so we decided to air on the side of caution and bring her out. Brooke’s ankle was feeling much better, so gave her some decent minutes. We move onto the next game and take it from there.”
With Pitt the next opponent on Thursday at Ambrose Urbanic Field, Duquesne will be looking to finish its offensive opportunities.
Several Duquesne opportunities were halted by passes that were not on the mark, shots that were not on target or the six offsides the team had during this contest.
Alvine believes the team is in a good spot defensively, which was the area of highest priority given a new back line save for Aunkst.
Now that the chemistry has been shored up there, there is an understanding that the other side of the ball will need to be fine tuned.
“We’re looking to build on the win and be more creative, creating more quality chances,” Alvine said. “Getting Katie back in the lineup is obviously something that helps with that but we have some other kids that are right there. It is just a little tweak here and there. This is a game where we could have scored three or four goals, it just wasn’t to be.”