The Duquesne Men’s Soccer Team traveled to East Lansing hoping for a result, but fell short 1-0 to Michigan State Tuesday night in a non-conference affair.
“Overall I think it was a good performance from us,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “Defensively, I think we’re getting better and better as the season goes along… We talked to the guys at halftime about growing up and maturing in an environment like this, where you’re on the road at a quality site playing a quality team. You’ve got to make sure you bring your best and do it for 90 minutes. I think we learned that the hard way a little tonight because we weren’t at our best for the entire 90. But the second 45 was pretty solid overall for us.”
Michigan State’s advantage on the scoreboard came on a 15th-minute set piece, where Farai Mutatu broke free and a Duquesne could not keep up with the Big Ten’s reigning Offensive Player of the Week.
Mutatu scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season off a free kick as his header took a bounce and beat Duquesne goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben.
“I would have to watch it back to know for sure, but it looked like (Mutatu) ran off with a pick and freed himself up,” said Brooks. “We didn’t enough to make sure we stayed with our runner and challenge for the ball. It’s something we can go back and watch on film to understand those moments just a little bit better as a team.”
In the first half, Brooks’s disappointment stemmed from on-ball decision making. He stressed a desire to become more active on the ball to facilitate those on the ball.
He did not single anyone out for the miscue and also explained that this was not present the whole game, but that in order for Duquesne to reach its Atlantic 10 goals, these floating moments had to be eliminated.
Though the first half was disjointed in spots, Duquesne did enjoy a 5-2 shots advantage in the first half, a sign that the team remained connected and was showing improvements.
“At the end of the day, you are playing at Michigan State, a Big Ten team and you want to make sure you can compete with anybody in the country,” Brooks stated. “I think we showed that we continue to improve in each game this year. There’s still positives in that but can continue to bring it on the offensive side and in more possession-oriented moments we continue to grow up and mature.”
During the 15-minute intermission, Duquesne focused more on the mental aspect and staying within itself.
Michigan State became a more aggressive side and started firing shots at higher rates, but Duquesne was able to counter with better possessions.
Nascimben, who was named A-10 Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, stood tall in goal and has gained Brooks’s belief in him being one of the best keepers in the conference, which allowed the Dukes to confidently explore more offensive opportunities.
In total, Duquesne fired 12 shots, three of which were on goal. Senior captain Ryan Landry led the Dukes with three shots, two booted on goal.
Ultimately the first-half goal stood up, sending Duquesne back home to prepare for its resumption in A-10 play Saturday against La Salle.
Duquesne has a lifetime 6-1-3 record against the Explorers at home, though Brooks believes, getting a victory Saturday will be based on collective attitude.
“We have to look at the positives,” he said. “You go to Michigan State, Kentucky and Pitt, those are games as the underdog where you want to show well, compete and yes, get the result. The guys know that there is a bigger picture in mind. They know the A-10 is our goal. We scheduled these teams to see some of the best in the country and we’re going to come strong on the other side ready and prepared for A-10 games.”