After losing two road games this past week, the Duquesne women’s soccer team looked to regroup Thursday night against Richmond and were successful, winning by a 2-1 score.
“I thought we played really well and created a ton of chances,” Duquesne coach Al Alvine said. “I am disappointed we didn’t score more. The fact we’re creating chances and getting opportunities is a positive. We could have managed the game better at the end, we made it more interesting than it had to be. We were in control completely I thought for about 88 minutes and then we made mistakes in the end.”
Duquesne is 4-4-2 overall on the season.
— Duquesne Women's Soccer (@DuqWSoccer) October 4, 2019
Duquesne has truly made Rooney Field its home and has a 4-0-1 record to show for it. That record would have been 5-0-0 were it not for a final-minute free kick in a draw against Loyola Marymount.
There was a certain energy in the stands Thursday night as several different Duquesne teams were there to lend support. The stands were buzzing throughout the night and the players clearly appeared to feed off of that energy.
“We know at home we are confident,” Araujo said. “We know we have a lot of support from the fans, a lot of people came out tonight. It was really exciting to see everyone.”
Since the start of the 2017 season, Duquesne is 17-4-4 at home and Alvine firmly believes that defending Rooney Field is crucial to the team’s success.
“If we win all of our home games in the conference, we’ll make the tournament, no questions asked,” he said. “It’s really important for us. We’ve been really good at home, created a lot of chances and had some good results.”
With Duquesne 0-4-1 on the road this season, he may have a point, granted two of those losses are to ranked opponents in West Virginia and North Carolina State.
The other two losses came this past week to Davidson and La Salle, teams Duquesne felt it could beat, although playing on the road generally creates a smaller margin of error.
“I think it was a brutal trip for us last week to go to Davidson on Wednesday, play Thursday and come back here Friday, then a training session and La Salle on Sunday,” said Alvine. “The ironic thing was I was very happy with how we played over the weekend apart from the goals we conceded. At La Salle we were the better team, we just had some lapses in concentration in some key moments. To get back on track today is something we are all excited about.”
As PA announcer Dom Errico announced Duquesne’s starting 11, there was a new name he never previously stated.
More than a year removed from an ACL injury, junior defender Kelly Donovan made her first career start with her teammates offering support through smiles, cheers and words of encouragement.
“It was just really exciting to finally get that chance to start on the field with my teammates and they’ve all given me the confidence to do so, especially coming back from injury,” she said. “It’s taken a lot to build that confidence back up. I think this is something that is really good for me and I’m excited to keep going forward with it.”
In total, Donovan played 36 minutes, the second-highest total in her Duquesne career.
“She’s worked very hard to get back to where she is right now,” said Alvine. “She’s working on her fitness and really played a lot over the summer. She’s somebody that is not just a good player, but also is a leader on the team. She’s somebody that everybody looks up to. She gives everybody a boost when she’s out there. Super happy that she came back from her injury the way that she did. She is just over a year out and is playing significant minutes for us.”
Now Donovan hopes not only to remain healthy, but also be able to continue making contributions.
“Having to overcome getting used to being out for a whole year and coming back is definitely a big change,” said Donovan. “Being back has been so much fun.”
Duquesne scored two goals, but the first was actually an own goal.
Granted the Dukes still worked for the goal as at three players were in the box and junior midfielder Deena DeBaldo was connecting with sophomore defender Sydney Routch. Araujo firmly believed that with how Duquesne was attacking that there would have been a goal scored regardless.
Richmond knew what that score meant from the instant it occurred and true to form, the match was decided by one goal.
Araujo scored the second goal and was aided by DeBaldo stepping in. Though the play was not executed to perfection, Araujo slipped in behind and took advantage of Richmond goalkeeper Claire Hinkle taking a bad angle to score what ultimately became the game-winning goal.
Apart from the final two minutes in which Duquesne made mistakes which contributed to Richmond’s lone goal, the Dukes had several meaningful offensive opportunities which were not converted. Alvine attributed this to a lack of focus and a need to be more clinical.
Even so, Duquesne did address a need to run to break a line and tried to focus on using this for all 90 minutes and in large part were successful.
Duquesne continues Atlantic 10 play against George Mason Sunday afternoon.
George Mason is 2-8-1 on the season and has been dealing with injuries including one to sophomore midfielder/forward Emma Van Der Vorst who last year was Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year.
“They’re a bit like us with how they want to play the game,” Alvine said. “They had a really good finish last year and I think they have been hit with some injuries. It is another opportunity to defend our home turf and get three points.”