Duquesne Women’s Soccer Coach Al Alvine had a confession to make Thursday night, after last year’s season-ending loss against La Salle in the Atlantic 10 Championship semifinals, he was counting down the days for the rematch and so was his team.
That rematch came at a rainy Rooney Field and Duquesne found itself down 2-0 in the 61st minute, but the home team had played aggressive soccer all night long, and quickly worked together to get back into the match.
By night’s end the entire team celebrated on the 10-yard line as sophomore forward Lauren Bell scored on a clean look in a 3-2 Duquesne overtime victory.
“We’re never going to give up, that’s one thing about our team,” she said. “We are never going to surrender, especially against a team like this. This is the one team we knew we could never surrender to, we needed the win.”
This win, is Duquesne’s first in Atlantic 10 play this season.
“Obviously it is a regular season conference game and there were three points on the line which is huge but it doesn’t make up for being knocked out of the semifinals of the A-10 tournament,” said Alvine. “We’ll take it, we needed these three points. By hook or by crook we got it. I feel like we dominated the game, they had five shots on goal and scored two of them. Even after they scored the second goal, I feel like we had a chance. We stuck with it and kept chipping away. At the end of the day, we got the result that we needed.”
Duquesne offered an almost immediate response, 35 seconds after La Salle’s second goal, scored off Clarissa Kirsch-Down’s right foot when sophomore midfielder Deena DeBaldo fired a top-shelf shot which came from just beyond the 20-yard line and beat sophomore keeper Claudia Jenkins.
In a similar manner, senior captain Abby Losco looked at where Jenkins was positioned and then fired a shot from the 30-yard line which beat the goalkeeper up top for the equalizer.
Alvine believes this was no coincidence.
“Their goalkeeper really does like to play off her line a lot,” he said. “The first goal was a really well-struck ball by Deena and the second one you could really see Abby noticing the goalkeeper was off her line and then just buried it. Credit to our kids for paying attention when we go over the scout because they took to heart what we said.”
In the overtime period, Bell stated the message was clear. La Salle is a team Duquesne does not want to lose to again.
Duquesne took the opening kickoff with a simple Losco touch to freshmen Alex Saturni. Eventually senior Katie O’Connor kicked a ball inside of the La Salle box which was deflected by freshman Hannah Nguyen to Bell who cleanly handled the pass and with space successfully fired an uncontested shot towards the bottom right of the goal.
Bell’s goal, her second of the season, meant that the overtime period lasted all of 16 seconds, with her teammates rushing towards the sophomore in record time.
“Those are the best, when you get the whole team out,” Bell said. “It was super exciting, but you could never do it without Katie playing the ball, or Alex and Hannah getting the ball. I just was the one that happened to be there that got the shot at the end. It was a team effort from start to finish. The whole team was invested in the game so we can take that into our game on Sunday.”
Something which certainly helped Duquesne’s cause was O’Connor’s return. Not only did Duquesne out-shoot La Salle 21-5 and 12-2 on goal, but O’Connor was able to maintain possession and played 63 minutes, a season high.
It is worth noting that La Salle’s two goals were the first scored by an opponent at Rooney Field, but for Alvine those goals did not take away from a young defensive unit which conceded five shots in 91 minutes.
Missy Moore was injured in the team’s draw Sunday and freshman defender Ashley Briscoe started this game but departed due to injury. Additionally, Kelly Donovan has not played since the team’s game against Pitt, meaning seniors Casey Aunkst and keeper Kyra Murphy were playing with three freshmen throughout the contest.
“It says a lot about Kyra and Casey leading a young unit,” said Alvine. “There were always three freshmen playing up there. They didn’t have a whole lot of opportunities, so they did a fantastic job.”
Duquesne will be searching for its first road win this season Sunday against VCU. The Rams bested Dayton 4-0 Thursday night.
“The team showed a lot of character and a lot of resilience to come back from two down in the second half to get the goals that we needed and to score the game-winner in overtime,” Alvine said. “Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. We struggled to score goals over the last couple of games, so get three goals tonight is a real treat.”