Duquesne’s conclusion to non-conference play saw it having difficulty generating offense and when it did were denied by crossbars and other breaks that did not go its way, so it was only fitting in Thursday night’s Atlantic 10 opener against Rhode Island that these breaks returned, this time in a more fortuitous fashion.
Brianna Moore scored her first collegiate goal, when her well-struck shot in the 29th minute hit the top crossbar and deflected into the back of the net and then with Rhode Island charging back into the match, Tierra Garniss’s bid for a hat trick collided hard with the same top crossbar but was denied.
In the end, Duquesne held on to secure a 3-2 win at Rooney Field,
“All that matters this time of year is getting the three points,” Duquesne coach Al Alvine said. “It’s important to get off the mark, thrilled to get the three points. I thought that the game was dead and buried until we let them back into it. They were done and then our mistakes led to them making it a game again. It’s a young team, and that will happen. We’re lucky because I think we learned a lesson and we still got away with a win, so that’s a big positive.”
Over the 11 days between this contest and the previous setback against Buffalo, Duquesne went to work on finding consistent connection with the ball and each other, while settling more into the game.
Duquesne was able to possess the ball at a 68% rate in the first half, with Alvine saying the opening 25 minutes of the game were “excellent”.
All three goals scored were in different ways, the first coming by applying pressure on the ball, a second coming off a set piece and then a long ball and finish concluding the scores.
“We had a couple of rough games passing the ball away and not staying super connected,” junior captain Jaimi Araujo said. “These practices were about getting back on track and working together like we did tonight.”
Duquesne also got closer to full strength as freshman defender Lindsay Krafchick returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games, competing for the full 90 minutes. Krafchick’s play was critical towards Duquesne’s win as she was a consistent presence on the ball, provided needed physicality and her long ball in the 57th minute was right on Araujo’s foot, leading to the game-winning goal.
Junior defender Jessica White not only made her first appearance of the season, but earned a starting spot and kept the team focused and in place, consistently playing within the team’s principles.
Freshman midfielder Mackenzie Muir returned to the field in a reserve role for 36 minutes as well, providing a spark with her presence.
Having these returns only seemed to strengthen Duquesne’s connection and confidence.
Moore’s goal, which started the scoring snapped 247-minute scoreless streak and gave Duquesne further belief that its work in training was paying off.
Araujo’s two goals gave Duquesne a lead which at the time appeared insurmountable.
“It’s always good to score goals, it’s been a couple of games since we’ve put balls in the back of the net,” said Araujo. “It felt great to get two, one off last year’s total, so looking forward to hopefully to get more. I thought we really came together tonight as a team in a way we haven’t in the past. We really fought for each other which was super exciting.”
Garniss opened Rhode Island’s scoring and then the Rams began to press, which presented challenges for Duquesne as it could not advance the ball to midfield.
As a result, Duquesne was pressured and rushed into decisions on the back third of the field and ultimately paid the price with a misplay, that led to an open goal, Garniss’s second of the evening.
Duquesne was running out of the energy that allowed it to build the lead, but willed itself to finish the game, and despite the crossbar shot, it was able to finish the game, although the result was briefly on pause as both teams exchanged words, with multiple yellow cards issued.
This win is Duquesne’s first over Rhode Island since 2015 and comes over a Rams team picked ahead of them in the Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll.
Now Duquesne will seek to continue this momentum Sunday afternoon with a 1 p.m. home kickoff against Saint Joseph’s.
“Calming down a little bit,” Araujo said when addressing what will be worked on in practice. “We got a little sloppy and lost our way, we stopped playing how we wanted to which allowed Rhode Island to get back into the game. Keeping our consistency with how we want to play is really important.”
Duquesne starters (3-3-0/1-0-0 A-10): Maddy Nuendorfer (GK), Ashley Rodriguez, Libby Majka, Margey Brown, Lindsay Krafchick, Jessica White, Jaimi Araujo, Kayla Winicki, Emma Bundy, Eva LaVecchia, Sarah Wilkinson
Rhode Island (1-4-3/0-1-1 A-10): Faith Hutchins (GK), Hope Santaniello, Sarah Yee, Francesca Highton, Carrie Ellis, Jordyn Allen, Brooke Cavino, Tess O’Connell, Tierra Garniss, Evelin Dapprich, Laila Rosenthal
Goals: Brianna Moore DUQ 1st 29′, Jaimi Araujo DUQ 2nd 47′, Jaimi Araujo DUQ 3rd 57′ (assist Lindsay Krafchick), Tierra Garniss URI 3rd 65′, Tierra Garniss URI 4th 68′
Yellow cards: Erin Hopewell URI 47′, Eva LaVecchia DUQ 49′, Sarah Wilkinson DUQ 76′, Mackenzie Leeder DUQ 90′, Hope Santaniello URI 90′, DUQ Team 90′
Shots: Rhode Island 19 Duquesne 12
Saves: Duquesne 12 Rhode Island 4