The Duquesne Women’s Soccer Team rallied from an injury and being a goal down at halftime to earn a 2-2 draw against Valparaiso Friday night at Rooney Field.
Duquesne junior defender Kayla Winicki to a lower-body injury in the first half and Karley Steinher came off the bench, playing 88 total minutes for the match.
In the first half, Valparaiso forward Kelsie James struck on a counter attack with Lindsey Dusatko recording an assist.
This 1-0 lead would serve as the advantage going into halftime.
Duquesne would score the equalizer when Jaimi Araujo lunged forward to redirect the ball into the back of an open net. This goal occurred after three Duquesne shots were peppered towards Valparaiso Nikki Coryell. Emma Bundy and Cami Taylor were credited with assists.
Five minutes later, Bundy kicked in her second goal of the young season. Following a Duquesne free kick and a Steinher header to advance the ball, a scrum ensued with Bundy emerging to place the Dukes in front.
Duquesne then attempted to hold the lead, but in the 80th minute, James struck again burying a free kick past Dukes keeper Megan Virgin.
Both teams had multiple opportunities from there at the end of the game, most notably a Valpo shot in the 107th minute that rang off the right post, but stayed out of the net.
“It was probably a fair result on the balance of play,” Duquesne coach Al Alvine said. “(Valparaiso) were a handful and caught us on a counterattack and scored a good counter-attack goal. For us to lose a player in the first as important as Kayla (Winicki) is for us in the back, she’s someone that plays 90 minutes every game for us, she’s the leader back there. So to lose her, go a goal down and come back in the second half and respond like that, I have nothing but respect and pride for our kids tonight.”
Duquesne has to turn the page quickly from this game as it travels to Morgantown to face #12 West Virginia Sunday at 5 p.m.
“I think we’re going to put up a fight and I’m not sure that is something West Virginia is expecting,” junior defender Ashley Rodriguez said. “With this double overtime, we’ve come back from them before they used to be our thing. It was not the best but we would still fight after. With the way that we’re rolling as a team, we’re going to fight, see a lot of positives in this game and hope to get a good result in this game.”
A HALFTIME PEP TALK
At halftime it was clear that Duquesne needed a boost as Valparaiso was possessing the ball at a higher rate and appeared to get more out of its possessions.
Duquesne would be on the attack but were not able to finish passes leading to several turnovers.
Alvine and his staff took the time to challenge the team to raise its level of play and Duquesne responded quickly obtaining momentum through much of the second half.
“The first 20-25 minutes of that second half it wasn’t a question of if, it was a question of when,” Alvine said. “I knew we were going to score at that point and we got two goals.”
Given Winicki’s setback, Rodriguez understood that her team needed to refocus and get back in the fight.
That second-half surge is what allowed the Woodbridge, Virginia native to leave the pitch feeling optimistic.
“We really fought today and came back,” she said. “Vocally someone needed to step up and I knew in the backline we needed to talk more. That was something we mentioned at halftime as well, to make sure we are moving forward and playing for (Winicki). In the second half we came out hard, came out fighting. Those two goals we got, we fought for those. We just have to keep going and early in the season we need to take care of our bodies and minds, making sure we are prepared to fight no matter what.”
Alvine also was optimistic saying Duquesne fought for this result shows his team can overcome any challenge.
He explained how crucial this test truly was because had Duquesne not passed the test it would have had to go back to the drawing board and rethink things.
“No we didn’t get the win but there are so many positives we can take away,” said Alvine. “We got better tonight and that’s the main focus.”
“A WAR OF ATTRITION”
Assessing the overtime periods, Rodriguez matter of factly said it came down to mental strength. Despite the sun setting, the real-feel temperature outside was still 92 degrees.
That coupled with it being so early in the season, where training time has not hit its peak made for a challenging time getting through the game physically as well.
“People were going down and I’ve never seen so many calf cramps in a matter of 10 minutes,” Rodriguez said. “The fact that we kept fighting and pushing each other, we were constantly talking to each other, that’s what really made it. We could’ve had five people down and we only had one, which was me, but we really got through it.”
Having been through this as a player himself, Alvine encouraged his reserves to remain on their feet for the duration of this contest to let those on the field know everyone was in the fight with them.
Given the sense of urgency, Alvine stated he was as vocal as he had been in a long time, doing so for the exact same reasoning.
The clear message resonated on the field and pushed Duquesne to keep going and trying to earn a positive result.
“It’s exhilarating, especially when you have the bench on their feet cheering for you,” said Rodriguez. “You’re seeing and feeling the balls connect. You can sense your players around you, especially with the chemistry that is growing on this team every single day. We’re so excited for it, because in the future it will definitely help us out.”