As the Duquesne men’s soccer team slowly left the field following a 2-1 loss to Fordham Wednesday night, coach Chase Brooks led the postgame huddle, quite possibly the longest all season.
Brooks has been rather positive all season long to his team following games and Wednesday was no different.
“We are right there, on the cusp,” he said. “It’s a position we know well, we’ve been there for a few games in a row now. I think this team has truly learned to compete at this level, now the next step is learning how to win at this level.”
If there is some solace for the team it is that Fordham was ranked prior to a loss a few days ago to Saint Joseph. Fordham was also picked first in the conference preseason poll.
When Brooks commanded the huddle, it would have been easy to understand if there was a disconnect given the nature of the loss but the team remained engaged and determined.
“The guys believe it, they believe in the process and really a lot of it is going to come from them,” said Brooks. “After a while when a coach is saying similar things over and over again, it’s going to become redundant. It is up to the players to truly believe it and act on it. I think the guys still are, but we just have to dig a slight bit deeper when push comes to shove.”
Fordham scored four minutes into the game when two of its players stood almost next to each other on a free kick and after a kick pass was returned, the kick was fired off from the 15-yard line and beat Duquesne goalkeeper Robbie McKelvey.
As Fordham made its early run, Duquesne was being pressured to connect with its passes under duress and it allowed the Rams to maintain its advantage.
Towards the end of the first half, Duquesne was able to put a few attacks on Fordham, a couple of which were attempts inside of the box that fell short, but momentum began to change hands.
“It was getting personnel in the game,” Brooks said of the adjustment. “Austin came in and is a very possession oriented player which allowed us to control some things. Second half we kept doing what we were doing and put guys in position.”
Duquesne was able to break through on the scoreboard in the 59th minute when freshman forward Manel Busquets drew a foul in the box. His penalty kick was just able to get past Fordham keeper Rashid Nuhu who may have got a piece of the kick.
Normally after a goal, Busquets runs towards the far end of the field and crosses his arms before being embraced by teammates, but Thursday he ran towards his teammates and held up a white shirt honoring Marquis “JB” Brown, the Duquesne football player who recently passed away.
Fordham won in the 95th minute, on connecting passes which culminated with a header inside of the box that was put away.
Duquesne has five games remaining with the next two coming on the road Saturday against George Mason and Wednesday versus Saint Louis. The Dukes currently are in a three-way tie for last place with one point. Saint Louis is in eighth place with five points, which is the final spot in the Atlantic 10 Championships.
“Every game matters,” said Brooks. “It matters all season long, but from here on out, there is not much room for a slip up. We’ve got to keep going. It’s extremely motivating. I told the guys that the season is basically on the line from this point on. We’ve got to keep winning, we’ve got to go.”