As sophomore defender Eric Zech was displaying his excitement over Duquesne men’s soccer’s 1-0 victory over VMI Saturday afternoon, teammate and fellow sophomore defender Moritz Kappelsberger snuck up behind him and with a wide smile across his face uttered two words.
“Vamos Germany”, Kappelsberger exclaimed.
The two Germans briefly embraced, a light-hearted moment as Duquesne is off to a 2-0-1 start to the season, its best open to a campaign since 2014.
Duquesne has built this momentum at Rooney Field defending its home turf and has not been scored upon in the last 283 minutes of play.
“Building a home-field advantage during the season is a big deal,” Duquesne senior captain Zach Hall. “So far it’s been great to get the results at home. We need to keep building on that throughout the rest of the season especially as we get into conference play.”
In its six days between games, Duquesne coach Chase Brooks stated that the team worked on integrating its attacking plays and principles while not losing its defensive edge.
He believes that Saturday’s shutout shows progress but there is work still to be done.
Duquesne possessed the ball 63% of the time in the first half and 59% for the game, while firing 20 total shots, nine of which were on goal.
“We had a couple of opportunities to put them away and that is where as we continue to mature as a group we have to learn what it takes to put those in the back of the net,” said Brooks. “I think it is just having a little more quality in those moments. What is our first touch doing and is it preparing us for our next touch? Our movement isn’t as precise or as accurate as we’d like it to be. It’s continuing to make progress there.”
Zech’s goal came in the 57th minute and was initially created by freshman forward Carter Breen’s quick feet as his reaction caused a VMI turnover. Duquesne quickly countered VMI’s attack as Breen found Hall in open space and his pass through the gap found a waiting Zech, who did the rest.
This counter was a play Duquesne worked on in the six-day gap between games and it paid off in that moment.
“That helps a lot because we need a plan to go forward and have some patterns to score goals,” Zech said. “I was happy to score my first goal here and help the team.”
The goal also was a positive sign for Duquesne as all of its previous tallies came on maintained possessions which required several passes, but this was a quick attack which is something the Dukes consider a strength.
As for Zech, his goal is an encouraging one as he has been getting back to full health. He did not start Duquesne’s season-opening contest against Bowling Green due to a hamstring injury but did play 54 minutes.
Since then, the 5-foot-11 German has played both and Saturday set a season high with 74 minutes played.
“He’s really starting to click,” said Brooks. “It was nice to see him get on the score sheet today and hopefully he can continue to build off that.”
Duquesne will have a quicker turnaround when it hosts Niagara Tuesday night.
Brooks is looking to not only keep the team’s mentality in the right direction but also continue working hard and learn each day.
“We feel really happy about these three games, two wins and one tie,” Zech said. “We need to move forward. We are in a good mood and confident. They’re coming here to our house and we have to win this.”