While there were many highlights in a Sunday afternoon 6-0 Duquesne women’s soccer victory over Youngstown State, forgive junior forward Lauren Bell if she has a personal bias.
In the 38th minute, Bell found her sister, freshman forward Natalie and the two combined for the team’s first goal of the game. It also happened to be Natalie’s first career goal at Duquesne.
“To be a part of her first career goal was so special,” Lauren Bell said. “She is going to accomplish so much and it was great to see the start of it.”
The Bell sisters both are biochemistry majors and Lauren could not help but express excitement about both being on campus together, with Natalie seemingly following in her footsteps.
“It makes me so happy, like I’ve done something right if she wants to be anything like me,” she said. “Having her so close all the time is a privilege not many siblings get, so we plan on making the most of it.”
While the Bells connected to put Duquesne on the goal, junior midfielder Deena DeBaldo scored three goals recording the first hat trick in program history since Danya Fenech accomplished the feat on Oct. 25, 2015 against Rhode Island.
“My teammates Lauren and Natalie Bell made great passes to me to run onto in order for me to score the goals that I scored today,” said DeBaldo. “My movement off the ball and looking for those gaps to have my teammates slide the ball through to me allowed me to be successful today. It was a good feeling.”
Freshman forward Jaimi Araujo scored her first career goal on a penalty kick in the 47th minute, 38 seconds after DeBaldo’s first score of this game and junior forward Tori Kopchak scored her first goal this season in the 61st minute.
In total, Duquesne fired off 28 shots, 17 of which were on goal.
“We are a 26-man team,” Bell said. “There is not one person that doesn’t contribute… we are excited for A-10’s and today we showed that all of us are ready to compete.”
This was Duquesne’s first game since a 3-0 loss a week prior at 14th-ranked North Carolina State and the response was the team’s highest goal total since Sept. 23, 2016.
“After the loss last weekend, we still kept our heads up and worked hard all week at practice,” said DeBaldo. “Everyday we get better and better as a team. It really showed today in the game. I thought it started from our warmup. Everyone was focused and determined to get the win today. We just need to keep working hard in practice so that we get the result we want during the start of A-10s.”
The game served as a homecoming for Youngstown State coach Brian Shrum who served as an assistant coach at Duquesne from 2012-17 and was elevated to associate head coach towards the back end of his time on the Bluff.
Duquesne’s upperclassmen all had a chance to catch up with him and extend well wishes as he builds Youngstown State’s program.
As for Duquesne, it concludes the non-conference slate with an even 2-2-2 record and faced ranked opponents in the aforementioned North Carolina State and then 11th-ranked West Virginia.
Following the season-opening contest at West Virginia, Duquesne tied both Loyola Marymount and Appalachian State, games which the Dukes felt they were the more clinical team, before winning in double overtime against Lehigh.
Last season, Duquesne did not qualify for the Atlantic 10 Championships for the first time since 2014 after posting a 2-6-2 A-10 record.
Duquesne starts off with a challenging task as it faces VCU Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Rams currently lead the conference with a 6-1-1 record and already have some success in Pittsburgh defeating Pitt 1-0 this past Thursday.
VCU was 16-4-0 a season ago including a 9-1 A-10 mark, a run which took it to the Atlantic 10 Championship finals where the Saint Louis Billikens emerged victorious by a 5-1 score.
Bell understands that it is important for Duquesne to get off to a quick start in conference play.
“We have this week to prepare for Sunday,” she said. “We are determined to do better than last year and to reach even higher than that. We are capable of great things as a team and Sunday will be the first step in the right direction.”