Duquesne men’s soccer coach Chase Brooks could not be any clearer after an Oct. 10 setback to Fordham, stating that each game the team would be battling to continue its season.
Prior to the season, Brooks made it clear that an appearance at the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships was a top priority and after that loss, the path became a lot more challenging.
For the first time in program history, Duquesne’s men’s soccer team defeated a ranked opponent in #23 Rhode Island by a 3-1 tally Saturday night at Rooney Field.
The victory places Duquesne in the eighth and final spot for the A-10 Championships.
“The belief factor continues to rise,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “Digging deep and understanding what it takes. It is nice to see it coming together now. Now it is at the point where we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve had three good results in a row, we have to keep moving forward and we go back to work in the morning.”
Prior to the contest, Brooks brought up the family aspect this team has embraced all season long and with four seniors being recognized in Olav Hovstad, Ian Larson, Noah Mehta and Austin Stout, the belief was certainly present that the quartet helped push Duquesne.
Something which also seems to have Duquesne going is its defense. When the Duquesne defense is firing on all cylinders as Brooks currently believes it is, that can be dangerous for opponents, especially when the Dukes score first.
“It’s just the education, specifically within the back line, the experience level has gone up defensively,” said Brooks. “When you can defend the way we are defending, you are going to be in every single game and then it’s about taking your chances which we have done two of the last three games. It’s a big difference when the ball goes in the back of the net.”
Duquesne did score first as Mehta headed in a cross from junior Zach Hall three minutes into the contest. Mehta would add a second goal in the 45th minute taking a pass from Hovstad and burying it in the left corner of the goal.
Stout scored a goal in the 40th minute cleaning up a loose ball in the box.
“I am so happy for those guys,” Brooks said of the senior duo. “They’ve put In such hard work and we’re on the right track as far as culture and competition level each day in training so it was a great performance from them.”
Rhode Island scored its lone goal in the 47th minute on a penalty kick.
Often times when an team is facing a ranked opponent, the statistics are overwhelmingly in favor of the team with a number next to its name and though the occasional upset comes it can be due to a fluke goal or one more thing going right.
That was not the case Saturday as Duquesne scored almost immediately and remained aggressive with those on the bench raising the bar.
“Our goal in this program is to never change who we are and we want teams to adapt to us,” said Brooks. “I think that’s what you are seeing. Our style of play is difficult to play against when we’re believing in it and we play to our max potential. I don’t think there are many teams out there that can handle it for 90 minutes and I think that’s what you saw tonight. It’s been a learning process so it is nice to see the belief and trust in this system.”
Duquesne has two regular season games remaining with the first coming Saturday evening at St. Bonaventure.