Duquesne junior goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben has been with the program for four years and thus has seen a fair share of highs and lows, but it was clear from the wide smile across his face that to date, this campaign has been a special one.
That feeling was only further enforced after a 3-0 victory over Atlantic 10 foe La Salle Saturday night, which saw it improve to 5-0 at Rooney Field.
“The team is growing together and as a unit too,” Nascimben said. “That has been one of the biggest changes in the four years that I have been here. We’re able to respond to adversity a lot more and that is something that Chase has preached to us. I know we have lost games but those haven’t fazed us. I am really proud of my team.”
Duquesne is now 6-3 on the season and 2-0 in Atlantic 10 play for the first time since 2005.
“We knew that La Salle was a good team and they keep possession extremely well,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “Every game in the A-10 is hard so we knew and have been working on this with our mentality, trying to start games fast. I give the guys full credit, they came out and hammered it out those first five minutes. When you start a game like that it makes things very interesting for us.”
Any questions as to how Duquesne would respond following Tuesday’s 1-0 setback at Michigan State were quickly answers as two goals were scored in the opening five minutes of Saturday night’s affair.
In the second minute, Nate Dragisich found Ryan Landry from 10 yards out. Landry immediately dished onto Maxi Hopfer upon receiving the pass for the score.
Brandon Rossi on Twitter: “#A10MSOC 2’ @DuqMSoccer leads La Salle 1-0. Maxi Hopfer scores his 6th goal, assists to @3lando3 (4th) and @natedragisich (2nd) @atlantic10 @pghsoccernow @ZacharyMWeiss @JohnKrysinsky @JSmith_1187 https://t.co/Gwkmb6k8UX” / Twitter
Dragisich called his own number three minutes later, connecting for a goal from just beyond the 20-yard line. The goal was unassisted and was Dragisich’s third of the season.
Brandon Rossi on Twitter: “#A10MSOC 5’ @DuqMSoccer now up 2-0 quickly over La Salle. Unassisted laser of a shot by @natedragisich, his 3rd of the season. @atlantic10 @pghsoccernow @JohnKrysinsky @JSmith_1187 @WestABoysSoccer https://t.co/nxjvOvEUQp” / Twitter
Hopfer tallied his second goal of the game and seventh of the season in the 39th minute, connecting with a ball from Landry. It was his third two-goal game of the season.
Brandon Rossi on Twitter: “#A10MSOC 39’ @DuqMSoccer leads La Salle 3-0. Maxi Hopfer and @3lando3 get their 2nd goal and assist of the day, respectively. @pghsoccernow @JSmith_1187 @JohnKrysinsky @ZacharyMWeiss @edrosensteel https://t.co/9PRww4kT8k” / Twitter
“At the end of the day it is hard work,” said Hopfer. “Hard work pays off at some point and I’m glad that it does right now. The most important things are that we win and have good team chemistry. I’m glad that I can do my part.”
Duquesne maintained this advantage for the duration of the game. It fired 23 shots on the evening and had 11 corner kicks to La Salle’s four.
It was clear that Duquesne was in good spirits following the result as players were smiling and climbing on each other’s shoulders, enjoying the result which came from teamwork.
“You’ve got to enjoy the good times,” Hopfer said. “Everyone is smiling and in a good mood… We all have personal goals and goals as a team. There is no space for negativity. We have this goal as a team and do our job. We find a way to push each other and do the job.”
Duquesne does not play for another week but will travel to face Davidson. It is the first of three road contests for the Dukes.
Though Duquesne has gotten conference play off on the right foot, Nascimben recalled the 2019 team and how some good conference play was undone by a 5-0 result against this same Davidson team.
He maintained that focus will be important in order for Duquesne to earn a positive result.
“It’s not easy in this conference to get points,” he said. “I know we’ve had a bit of an advantage playing at home, but each game we’ve had to dig deep and grind. We’ve scored six goals in conference and conceded one. That’s incredible. It shows how we’ve done as a team, the preseason work and all of the coaches who do not get enough credit for what they do.”
A CHANGE IN APPROACH
Normally at halftime, Brooks likes his team to go into the final 45 minutes of regulation playing as if the game is a scoreless tie, but Saturday, that was different.
“This time I wanted to make sure they knew they were up 3-0,” he said. “That’s for a reason, but we were still letting them hang around, so we had to prove a point this half and limit their opportunities.”
This tactic could have stemmed from a belief Brooks had that Duquesne took its foot off the gas after scoring the two early goals.
Despite that advantage, Duquesne conceded 11 shots to La Salle in the first half and the conversation shifted towards putting forward a more mature effort in the second half.
Though Duquesne did not add to its advantage, La Salle’s efforts were more contained which showed that the Dukes did deliver on Brooks’s ask.
These adjustments have been consistently followed by Duquesne across the season and the coachability goes back to the belief piece that has consistently been spoken about by the team.
“I’ve been a big believer in the team and always bought into Chase’s philosophy here,” said Nascimben. “Everything he says is true. He wants us to stick to our structure and now that we’re listening, we’ve all bought in. We’re able to push on together. ”