The Duquesne Men’s Soccer Team was running out of time, down by a goal on the road to Saint Joseph’s in the Atlantic 10 Championship quarterfinals Sunday afternoon, with 10 minutes remaining in regulation, and the 432 in attendance were more than ready to let them know.
Seeded sixth in the A-10 Championship, Duquesne had won one road game all season and that came in early September, but the Dukes were determined not to let that be their story.
Duquesne was able to score two goals in the final five minutes of regulation to secure a 2-1 victory at Saint Joseph’s, the team’s first in A-10 Championship play since 2002.
The Dukes also have advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2006.
“We’re excited,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “We’ve had belief in ourselves for the entire year and to finally have that come to realization in a conference game away, on the road where we’ve had our struggles, was great to see. The guys kept their belief in the system, in themselves and each other. You put the uniform on for days like today.”
Last season, Duquesne scored five goals in seven contests, but this was a team which has been one of the most potent offenses in the A-10, while also quickly responding in the face of adversity.
Saint Joseph’s provided that adversity, cleaning up a missing strike off a cross in the 80th minute as Matias Mancini recovered possession and found an angle to score.
Duquesne unsuccessfully tried to cross the ball, but Johnny Cunningham sacrificed his body to clear it, forcing a Dukes corner. Cunningham was injured on the play and did not return.
On Ryan Goodhew’s corner, Maxi Hopfer appeared to get a shot off, but his effort went toward Tom Tzabari who scored his first goal of the season.
“I think it shows a lot of heart and the passion of what we’re doing, for his teammates and the belief he has,” said Brooks. “He’s a guy who last time at St. Joe’s didn’t finish the game. For him to come back here and have a performance like he did today was good to see.”
The goal also fulfilled a promise Brooks gave his team, that it was too good of an offense to be held off the scoreboard.
Those in attendance tried to distract Goodhew, with one audibly screaming “terrible kick”, but that sentiment was quieted with Duquesne’s sideline erupting in approval.
Just a couple of minutes later, Saint Joseph’s was unable to clear Nate Dragisich’s throw in and he ultimately changed fields with a pass to captain Ryan Landry.
Landry made the initial touch but could not trap it and it was a race to the ball between himself and St. Joe’s midfielder Alvin Dahn, both of whom could be playing in their last collegiate game. It was Landry who was getting the better end of the exchange and he had both touch and angle.
Sensing this, Dahn tried to shove Landry, who fell to the floor. A whistle was blown and Dahn received a yellow card.
“Landry’s one of our leaders for a reason,” Brooks said. “He’s a heart-and-soul guy and gives you everything he has. You could see it in him he did not want today to be his last game. That’s the passion and leadership you need on the field. We’re fortunate to have him and hopefully we can get him for a couple more games.”
Now, it was once again on Goodhew’s foot for a direct kick and with a target in mind, he connected with junior defender Jaime Borjas’s head and his shot beat Hawks keeper Lars Haavie.
The two goals were scored 2:55 apart.
It was on Duquesne to defend for the last couple of minutes and St. Joe’s did have an opportunity in the box, but could not control it and were ultimately called offsides.
In the closing seconds, Goodhew got a foot on a ball and skied it in the air as time ran out, securing Duquesne’s historic win.
Saint Joseph’s had its opportunities to score early in the contest, enjoying an 11-0 advantage in corners, but were unable to convert.
This was an important boost for a Duquesne side which twice fell victim to the corner kick in the regular-season finale at Dayton.
Brooks cited the team’s work on this exact area in training throughout the week. He is aware that others will think it is a weakness Duquesne possesses, but believes that between players getting off the ground and sacrificing bodies, that those beliefs are erroneous.
“A lot of it is that belief, the willingness to do the dirty work and claw for every inch,” he said. “That is what those moments come down to. In Dayton that didn’t go our way and we struggled in that area and our mentality maybe was not correct, so it was really nice to see the guys respond.”
Duquesne next will face second-seeded Rhode Island Friday at 4 p.m. The contest will be held at Saint Louis University’s Hermann Stadium. The Rams lead the overall series 16-8 and have won both A-10 Championship meetings. Duquesne won the last meeting between these teams in 2018 when Rhode Island was ranked 23rd. That was the Dukes first-ever victory over a ranked opponent.
“Rhody is a quality team, we know that,” said Brooks. “They’re a team we’re excited to play at a neutral site and see what we can do.”
Photo & video credits: Matt Ralph / Brotherly Game