All season long, the Duquesne men’s soccer team has been able to successfully defend Rooney Field, but Saturday night it finally flinched.
Massachusetts scored in the 106th minute of the game and celebrated as this was the first win of its Atlantic 10 campaign.
“I think it just came down to the little things,” Duquesne senior captain Zach Hall said. “Both goals we allowed tonight came off set pieces and I don’t know if we’ve given up a goal off set pieces all year. For me that is just a focus thing. In order to win college soccer games, you have to win the set piece battle and we did not do that tonight.”
Hall stated that Duquesne works on set pieces in each practice, a clear sign for understanding their importance and quite simply, he opined that the team just has to step up.
Coming into this match, Duquesne knew it had a tough task as both Carter Breen and Gavin Watt, were unavailable. Duquesne’s bench was quite short meaning most of the starters would have to play the entire match.
“We’ve faced adversity pretty much since day one of the preseason,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “This group has been unbelievably successful about that all season, but this was just one of those nights where things kind of caught up to us. You can do 99% of things the right way but if that 1% is not correct, you still have the ability to fall short. You always want to win your home games regardless. Every game in the A-10 matters for seeding purposes and postseason purposes. Tonight was a lost opportunity and we have to bounce back Wednesday.”
Duquesne controlled play in the first half of this game and had 10 shots to UMass’s two, but were not clinical in the attacking third earning one corner kicks for its efforts.
“It was unfortunate not to have the lead at halftime, I thought we deserved it,” said Hall. “If you don’t take your chances when you get them, it is hard to win games.”
Duquesne’s goal came on a penalty kick taken by sophomore midfielder Manel Busquets in the 51st minute. Earlier on in the season, Moritz Kappelsberger took two penalty kicks, but Brooks opted to reward Busquets’ play this season. Additionally penalty kicks typically go in the same spot when one consistently is selected to take them, meaning Busquets provided a new look that UMass could not scout.
UMass provided an equalizer in the 58th minute and began to exhibit signs of physical play.
Brooks chalked it up to UMass being in a do-or-die situation needing to win if it was to have any hope of making the Atlantic 10 Championship, an event in which only the top eight are permitted.
“I am not sure if that buoyed them more than us but hopefully our guys realize that you can’t take your foot off the gas against anyone in this conference,” he said.
Duquesne’s setback came at a time when those around them in the standings did not improve, which squandered a chance to improve to a tie for third place with VCU with three regular season contests remaining.
Still, Duquesne is very much in the playoff hunt and the potential to earn a first-round home contest is there.
The work to achieve both of those goals resumes Wednesday with a road contest against Dayton. These two teams are tied in the conference standings, making the result an important one.