Freshman midfielder Nate Dragisich was looking to continue the legacy his father Brent created at Duquesne and after scoring the game-winning goal in the 89th minute of the team’s 2-1 victory over Niagara, is certainly off to a strong start.
“I just kept finding spots to get the ball in and get shots off,” Dragisich said. “(Niagara’s) defense was very stretched out so I kept getting in the spots to get a goal and thankfully it happened in the end.”
Duquesne had conceded the tying goal when Niagara’s Matthew Krucko-Moeller connected with Rodrigo Almeida for an 85th minute equalizer. The tally ended Duquesne’s streak of 368 minutes without conceding a goal.
Instead of settling for overtime, Duquesne continued to battle and Dragisich took over from there.
“He has been huge for us the whole season and been plugging away in training,” junior forward Jack Shearer said. “He’s a ball winner and he can get us going in the attack. He plays well, is creative and crafty. He’s been on top of things.”
Dragisich was indeed on top of ensuring that Niagara’s momentum would be short lived and that there would be no overtime at Rooney Field Tuesday night.
He was embraced again by his teammates and coaches following the game’s conclusion. The five-foot-nine Dragisich reflected on the moment and what it meant to both him and the team as well, referring to as as a “top three moment at least” in his career.
“I just came into this season trying to play my game because that’s all I can do,” he said. “Thankfully I’ve had opportunities to play and the coaches have the trust in me to put me in the game. I’ve been doing my best to make sure that they are not making a bad decision.”
FOR 👏THE 👏WIN👏
— Duquesne Men's Soccer (@DuqMSoccer) September 11, 2019
As for Duquesne it is now 3-0-1 on the season with Tuesday’s victory.
“That one felt really good and the main reason was because as a program in the past we’ve struggled to close out games like that,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “Games that are physical, ugly battles. Today the guys dug in and we’re taking steps. One thing that was big for us coming into the season was learning how to win games and we’re doing that right now. It’s not always pretty, but it doesn’t have to be.”
Duquesne has now matched the three home wins it earned in both the 2017 and 2018 season. The Dukes have scored five goals and conceded two in the young season.
What is more important to the team is that it has fully embraced playing together and finding ways to earn results.
“We just keep fighting until the end and it just turns into good things,” said Dragisich. “We’ve had some very good results so far and we want to keep it up. To win games you have play as a team, defend as a team and attack as a team. When you do play together as a team, it is a lot easier to get the result, find goals and keep goals out of your net.”
This game proved to be a test for Duquesne for a variety of reasons.
In the past, this has been a Duquesne team which would have settled for overtime and once there did not have too much success.
As the second half drew closer to a conclusion, referee Corey Yerace began issuing cards to both teams and Duquesne was closer to not crossing the imaginary line which helped build towards Dragisich’s score.
“It says that we have a resilience about us and that we feel we can win regardless of the time of the game,” said Brooks. “That’s a very positive sign and that’s not something that has always been there.”
Duquesne’s first goal came seven seconds before halftime as Shearer tallied his first score on an assist from senior midfielder Owen Rossi.
Shearer is new to Duquesne’s team this season after playing at St. John’s in each of the past two years.
“It was great individual play,” Shearer explained. “We moved the ball quickly, a couple 1-2 combination. (Nathan) Dossantos delivered a ball back post, Zach (Hall) tracked it down and it feel to Owen and I found a seam. Owen found me and I just tried to keep it low and away from the keeper.”
Duquesne was without sophomore forward Manel Busquets as he sat out this game after being injured in Saturday’s win over VMI.
While Busquets did not play, this game marked sophomore defender/midfielder Rob Dymond’s return from injury. Dymond was fourth on last year’s team in points and played 28 minutes Tuesday evening.
“Rob is such an engine on the field,” said Brooks. “He’s a leader, he’s just got an ability you always want to have out there. It was great to get him some minutes tonight and hopefully we can get him to expand upon his role and get him back to 90 here in the next few games.”
Duquesne will now look to continue its winning ways Sunday in another home contest, this one against California Baptist as part of a doubleheader with the women’s team.
“We are getting better every day and we’re just going to use this win to move us towards Sunday,” said Shearer. “We’ll be ready, have a good week of training and keep learning.”
Here are some additional pictures of Tuesday’s victory: