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Duquesne earns three A-10 nods

Photo credit: Zachary Weiss/Pittsburgh Soccer Now

In what has become a constant this season because of individual and team performances, both the Duquesne men’s and women’s soccer teams received Atlantic 10 weekly recognition, this time amassing three awards.

Duquesne women’s soccer junior captain Deena DeBaldo was named co-Player of the Week after scoring one goal and recording one assist in a 2-1 A-10 victory over VCU. DeBaldo shared the honor with George Washington’s Maria Pareja.

With this recognition, DeBaldo becomes the first Duquesne player in program history to win this award in consecutive weeks. Previously, Michelle Gunna (9/21/98) and Jessica McGarry (9/28/98) combined to receive A-10 Player of the Week in consecutive weeks.

“I told her after the Youngstown game just the way she had played until that point that this could be a special year for her and you saw it today,” Duquesne coach Al Alvine said of DeBaldo. “She’s been great all season, leads by example and does everything right. I’m thrilled that she is finally starting to get the recognition she deserves, I thought she should have been an all-conference player last year. Right now, she is making a strong case to get some kind of recognition this year.”

With her efforts on Sunday, DeBaldo is tied for first place in the conference with 13 total points, with nine of those points coming in the last two games.

DeBaldo came into this season with three career goals and currently has six on the season. Her award is the fourth time, the women’s soccer team has received conference recognition this season.

Duquesne is now 3-2-2 on the season but after the win, Alvine felt validated by his non-conference strategy of scheduling top-25 opponents in preparing his team.

“That’s why we play those games,” he said. “Once we get to conference, there’s nothing they haven’t seen and nothing really fazes them. You go to places like West Virginia and North Carolina State, you know you’re going to see very little of the ball over the course of 90 minutes, so what you do without the ball becomes very critical. We gained a lot of experience, especially as a young team. (Sunday) our starting 11 was eight sophomores, one freshman and two juniors against a veteran team.”

On the men’s side, sophomore midfielder Manel Busquets was named Offensive Player of the Week and senior goalkeeper Robbie McKelvey received recognition as Defensive Player of the Week.

Busquets scored three goals and recorded an assist on the week, ultimately totaling seven of his A-10 leading 10 points on the season.

The first goal came at Robert Morris which sealed Duquesne’s victory in the 79th minute. This was Duquesne’s first road contest of the season and the Dukes scored both of their goals in the second half.

“In the locker room we said we have to go for the game,” Busquets said. “We cannot get four wins and now tie the game. We went for it and that’s why I think we won the game.”

Busquets also recorded an assist in the 53rd minute, finding junior forward Jack Shearer on a cross, which resulted in Duquesne’s first goal of the afternoon.

Busquets, who admitted that his goal at Robert Morris gave him needed confidence, was responsible for both of Duquesne’s scores in a 2-1 victory over Saint Joseph’s to open A-10 play. Busquets’ two goals came on the team’s lone two shots on goal.

“It was only a matter a time before he got on a roll,” Duquesne senior captain Zach Hall. “I think he’s feeling good and when he’s feeling good he’s one of the best attackers out there. Confidence is huge for forwards and their play and we’re seeing just how true that is with him now. I am so happy for him and for how the team is finding ways to win day in and day out. This is what it’s all about.”

McKelvey began the week ranked in the NCAA’s Top 10 in save percentage and saved 12 of 13 shots in the two victories.

In total, McKelvey has allowed four goals in seven games, which is a key reason for Duquesne’s quick start which allowed the Dukes to win consecutive road contests for the first time since 2009. This season, McKelvey leads the A-10 in goals-against-average (.55) and save percentage (.905).

This is the fourth consecutive week, Duquesne was recognized by the Atlantic 10 and McKelvey’s second Defensive Player of the Week nod.

During halftime of Sunday’s Duquesne women’s soccer game against VCU, Busquets joined senior captain Zach Hall and sophomore defender Nathan Dossantos in speaking to Pittsburgh Soccer Now about its 6-0-1 start to the season and upcoming match Tuesday against Saint Francis.

Both the Duquesne men’s and women’s teams will be on the road this week. The women’s team has road contests Thursday and Sunday against Richmond and La Salle respectively, while the men’s team has Saint Francis Tuesday and La Salle Saturday.

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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