It has been a challenging year for Duquesne as many injuries have affected the team’s depth as well as its results.
Duquesne, now 4-7-2/2-4-1 after a 2-1 loss to La Salle, have not won a road game in its six tries and have tried various formations to try and get results.
In Thursday night’s setback, Duquesne rallied to get a goal in the 55th minute as Ashley Rodriguez successfully converted a penalty kick for the second time this season, but La Salle scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the 72nd minute as Lauren Costello headed a cross in past Dukes goalkeeper Megan Virgin.
This sequence occurred 19 seconds after another Duquesne injury.
Following the game, multiple Duquesne shed tears and were hugged by teammates as the short-handed Dukes fought with everything they had, but came out with a less-than-desired result.
“They’re down right now, they’re disappointed to lose a game, especially at home,” Duquesne coach Al Alvine said. “I can’t ask anymore from the effort they put forth. We’ve suffered some losses from injury, we had a kid that was suspended tonight because of a red card in the previous game, so it was bare bones without them in terms of our roster. It was a tough ask tonight but can’t fault the effort or energy. The kids gave all they had, I am proud of them.”
Duquesne was outshot 20-7 with an 8-2 deficit coming on goal. La Salle also had eight corners to Duquesne’s three.
Virgin also made six saves on the evening, including a crucial diving punch save against Giovanna Castorina in the 18th minute.
La Salle struck first in the 36th minute on a corner set piece as the Explorers initial shot hit the crossbar, which appeared to freeze the Duquesne side. La Salle pursued the rebound and Kelli McGroarty kicked the ball just barely into the goal.
In the second half, senior Brooke Schutter had opportunities inside the box as she was fouled, which led to Rodriguez’s PK goal and also narrowly missed two shots herself.
“She’s made some good decisions on the ball and put defenses under pressure,” said Alvine. “She’s a big kid so she’s a good physical presence for us. I was really happy with how she played.”
Costello scored in the 72nd minute and La Salle held on for an important victory as the two teams were tied in the Atlantic 10 standings.
“We tried a different formation at the beginning of the game but it didn’t really work so we shifted gears and moved players around,” Alvine said. “We are back to the way we started and we had more of the ball as we went on. The kids enacted the game plan, it’s just right now we’re so thin numbers wise that we’re asking a lot of these players in the last five or six games. We don’t have the depth to absorb that.”
Though it would be easy for Alvine to be down given the setback and the injuries, he could not have been prouder of his side for their battle and mentality.
“The attitudes have been great and it hasn’t affected our approach in training and how we’ve come out for games,” he said. “There’s a lot of teams dealing with similar situations, maybe not as severely as we’re dealing with, but it’s something you have to deal with every season to a degree. We have to adjust and move on.”
Thursday, Duquesne was without six players who started at some point this season, with several others also not able to suit up.
This season has been a tough ask across the board as all teams played an abbreviated schedule in the spring and then had to ramp back up for a full slate of games, with a much shorter turnaround, which has been demanding both physically and mentally.
Alvine concedes that this season has been far from easy and it has been a challenge trying to problem solve.
“You’re constantly having to make adjustments, move players around and solve problems,” said Alvine. “It’s rewarding as a coach, even when you don’t win, to see the type of effort and energy that these kids can put out there. Right now, I just want them to be rewarded for their efforts, they work really hard.”
Despite the result, Duquesne has three games remaining, including Sunday’s affair at Rhode Island, which will be followed by senior day on Thursday against George Washington, where 14 individuals will be honored.
Alvine’s optimism expected in these next games and he is hopeful that his Dukes can make a run to a potential A-10 Championship berth.
“Nothing is decided, there’s nine points up for grabs,” he said. “They just have to believe that they can make it happen, I believe that they can, but it doesn’t matter what I believe if they don’t believe.”