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Duquesne builds connections in setback to No. 10 Saint Louis

Just over a year ago, the Duquesne Women’s Soccer Team earned a signature win by besting Saint Louis and Sunday afternoon the Dukes had similar aspirations facing off against the 10th-ranked team in the country but fell short 1-0 at Rooney Field.

The difference as far as the scoreboard was concerned wound up being Abbie Miller’s fourth goal of the season, which came in the 54th minute.

“I thought we really made them work for their win,” Duquesne coach Al Alvine said. “At the end of the day they made a play, and we didn’t. Give all of the credit in the world to the girls for their first-half performance it was some of the best soccer we’ve played. Defensively I thought we were super well organized. They won their battles except for a couple of instances but no complaints. Between the game Thursday and today, could be real turning points for us. If we can put the same type of effort and performance in the same next six games, then we’ll be in a pretty good spot.”

A week prior, Alvine was quite critical of his team to the point where multiple comments were not written but it was clear that his message was sent.

In the days leading up to Thursday’s road contest at Richmond, Duquesne was focused on details and simply being themselves.

The four goals conceded in the opening pair of Atlantic 10 games were self-inflicted and Duquesne felt in its draw against Saint Joseph’s that it left two points out on the field.

When Duquesne won a 1-0 contest against Richmond, it earned its first shutout of the season and some much-needed momentum heading into the Saint Louis contest.

“We’re just communicating as a team more and have a lot more trust in each other,” sophomore goalkeeper Maddy Neundorfer said. “We just want everyone to be successful. We knew coming in that Saint Louis was going to be a really hard team, so we knew we had to play our best game and work together as a team.”

Indeed, the result provided some validation that Duquesne was doing the right things and back on track as a side, which was needed against an opportunistic #10 SLU team, which has been battle tested.

From the opening kick, Duquesne displayed a sense of urgency, where defenders consistently sold out for their teammates and established a clear identity.

In the first half, Duquesne possessed the ball 51% of the time against its ranked opponent and captain Jaimi Araujo had a shot in the 14th minute, but with the ball on her foot, the shot sailed high right of target.

Beyond that opportunity, Duquesne had its challenges advancing the ball into the attacking third, though the defense remained firmly in control, to the point where Saint Louis had to switch its strategy from crisp passing, opting for longballs.

In the second half, Duquesne had two early but were unable to earn a foul within the box and then were called for an offsides.

Despite these setbacks, it was clear that Saint Louis was a frustrated side and were trying to find a solution to secure a road victory.

The Billikens would not have to wait long as Miller scored in the 54th minute on a cross which found her head in space. The header was an individual effort which was on target and proved the difference.

Despite the goal, Duquesne did not give up, continuing to fight for at the very least a draw, a result Alvine felt the team deserved.

Previously in the season, a youthful Duquesne has allowed similar moments to consume them, affecting the on-field product both tactically and from an aspect of connectivity.

Duquesne pressed on from the goal conceded, though Neundorfer had to make three crucial saves, including one in the 77th minute, where she had to go on instinct and was correct in doing so.

Freshman midfielder Mackenzie Muir offered Duquesne’s best scoring opportunity in the 69th minute, but like Araujo, her shot sailed high and right of frame.

While Duquesne did not get the win it feels that the result and fight will go a long way towards reaching its goals.

“Even though we didn’t get the result we wanted, we showed that we are better than what the preseason poll has us at T-10,” said Neundorfer. “We’ll just come out the next few games and compete.”

Duquesne next will take to the road for two games, beginning with Thursday’s contest at Massachusetts, doing so with big hopes and aspirations.

“We think this team can do something special this year,” Alvine said.

PHOTO GALLERY

GAMEDAY INFO

Duquesne (4-4-1/2-1-1 A-10): Maddy Nuendorfer (GK), Ashley Rodriguez, Margey Brown, Lindsay Krafchick, Cami Taylor, Jaimi Araujo, Kayla Winicki, Emma Bundy, Eva LaVecchia, Mackenzie Muir Sarah Wilkinson

#10 Saint Louis (11-1-0/3-0-0 A-10): Emily Puricelli (GK), Emily Groark, Caroline Kelly, Jess Preusser, Hannah Friedrich, Brionna Halverson, Katie Houck, Abbie Miller, Emily Gaebe, Lyndsey Heckel, Sophia Stram

Goals: Abbie Miller SLU 4th 54′

Cards: None

Corners: SLU 8 DUQ 0

Shots: SJU 21 (9 on frame) DUQ 4 (2 on frame)

HONORING MOE

Before the opening kickoff, Duquesne had a ceremony where Kaitlyn “Moe” Rosensteel’s #86 was retired by the team. Both captains Jaimi Araujo and Sarah Wilkinson brought out flowers and the retired jersey respectively in an emotional event which impacted several Duquesne players, many of whom knew Rosensteel, including freshman defender CeCe Scott, the winner of the 2022 Kaitlyn “Moe” Rosensteel scholarship.

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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