With rain on and off all Sunday afternoon at Rooney Field, the weather showed its first true sign of promise as Duquesne Women’s Soccer senior captain Sarah Wilkinson broke through Buffalo’s defense, firing an uncontested shot which fell right of target.
As Wilkinson processed her miss, Duquesne’s lone shot on goal on the game, the skies began to open up once again. Moments later the final horn sounded, signifying Duquesne’s 1-0 loss to Buffalo.
“The first 45 minutes from us were not good enough,” Duquesne coach Al Alvine said. “We talked about that at halftime and then we came out and played the way that we wanted to play. They’re a really good team, probably the best team in the MAC this year. If we played the first 45 minutes the way we played the second 45 minutes and we give ourselves a chance. Unfortunately it wasn’t the case. We were too slow off the mark and too sloppy in possession, our movement wasn’t good enough, we rectified that but it’s a 90-minute game.”
Duquesne was outshot 18-4 and 9-1 on goal, while also trailing 10-2 in corner kicks, including four in a row.
The offensive possession was a carryover from Thursday’s loss to Drexel in which the ball struggled to cross midfield, requiring several passes to do so. In the instances the ball was able to cross, it almost immediately was given back to the opponent, with sideline encouragement quickly cut off both by Buffalo’s actions and unforced errors.
Granted, Duquesne remained without the services of its freshmen trio consisting of Lindsay Krafchick, Maya Matesa and Mackenzie Muir and new combinations have been placed together, but even so, Alvine admitted that the passing efforts were extremely noticeable.
“We’ve got to take fewer touches on the ball, it’s got to be one and two touch coming through midfield and we’re looking for the highest player and supporting that pass,” he said. “The game on Thursday was okay and I thought in the second half I thought you could see a difference in how quickly we were moving the ball.”
A bright side for Duquesne has been its defensive play. Senior Kayla Winicki returned earlier in the season at Penn State after suffering an ACL injury that caused her to miss all but two games in 2021. She played a full 90 minutes and kept her game at a consistent level.
Senior Ashley Rodriguez has been steady on the Duquesne side, growing in vocality and being a lockdown defender, to the point of clearly agitating a Buffalo player numerous times throughout the game.
Sophomore Karley Steinher has been able to raise her play to the level it was at prior to her season-ending injury a campaign ago.
Freshman Devin Lillis was a consistent force in her 72 minutes and even helped Rodriguez play behind in goal, with the former stopping a would-be goal from falling into the back of the net.
While Duquesne has been held scoreless in its last 230 minutes on the pitch, Alvine does not believe his team’s 4-3-3 formation needs changed. What he does believe goes back to better passing and a faster pace on the offensive side.
As far as the game was concerned, Duquesne came out as an aggressive side with something to prove, but a foul inside of the box, gave Buffalo an early penalty kick, which Katie Krohn capitalized for her first goal of the game.
Duquesne got one shot off in the first half and struggled to get the ball into the attacking third of the field, though it did not betray body language as it had Thursday.
Wilkinson’s shot proved to be the lone true offensive breakthrough, but as had been the case Thursday, the opportunity did not go Duquesne’s way.
Duquesne has one game remaining Thursday as it will head to Loretto and face Saint Francis, with conference play beginning a week later.
“This is the time for us to learn, we’ve got a nice long break where can get kids recovered,” said Alvine. “We’ve learned a lot over the non-conference schedule about our team and what we have. The season starts for us on September 15, God willing we’ll be back to full strength.”
Duquesne starters (2-3-0): Maddy Nuendorfer (GK), Ashley Rodriguez, Libby Majka, Margey Brown, Cami Taylor, Jaimi Araujo, Kayla Winicki, Devin Lillis, Emma Bundy, Eva LaVecchia, Sarah Wilkinson
Buffalo (4-1-0): Emily Kelly (GK), Ellie Simmons, Sarah Woods, Emily Lazenby, Katie Krohn, Leah Wengender, Alya Ruken, Jasmine Guerber, Payton Robertson, Hannah Callaghan, Tess Ford
Goal: Katie Krohn 1st BUF 6′ PK
Yellow card: Karley Steinher DUQ 76′
Corners: Buffalo 10 Duquesne 2