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Duquesne shutout by Akron in first loss of season

AKRON, OHIO — The 24th ranked Duquesne Men’s Soccer team saw its historic start to the season receive its first setback, to the tune of a 1-0 defeat at 25th ranked Akron Wednesday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“I think you know you’re coming into a tough environment against Akron, they’re a perennial power, very good in possession,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “We handled their possession well for most of the game, but we had our moment where we could possess some of our better possession and still some moments to learn and grow. It’s still a positive takeaway tonight with our guys coming away knowing they can compete with anyone in the country. A few tweaks here and there to continue moving forward.”

Duquesne entered play recovered following the long bus trip to and from Massachusetts and appeared to be an organized side, though it was unable to generate many chances in the attacking third.

Its best first-half chance came off Zach Mowka’s foot in the 41st minute after he won the ball in the box. The shot fell just right of frame, though it was disputed if an Akron player got a hand on it, ultimately referee Brian Miller awards the Zips possession.

Duquesne would not earn any shots on goal on the evening.

“We have high aspirations and believe we can win every time we step on the field,” said Brooks. “It’s disappointing to come here and get as many corners as we did but not get any shots on goal, that was probably the most frustrating thing of the evening. Ultimately, we’re in the right spaces we just have to take that next step.”

Dyson Clapier scored in the 53rd minute, when he found space in the box and converted a cross from point-blank range.

Akron’s goal seemed to energize the home side as the ball started to move at a quicker rate, which had Duquesne and captain/goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben playing defensively a lot more.

When Duquesne did generate attacks, Akron was there blocking shots, something Brooks stated came down to an understanding of playing in big games, something Duquesne is still learning to do.

Now he feels that in addition to previously stated goals, the next is establishing that sense of belonging and entitlement in that regard.

“Anytime you’re a team striving for excellence and competing to be among the best in the country, but the history isn’t there, it’s a learning process,” Brooks said. “We just have to learn and move forward.”

In its game against Penn State, Akron’s downfall was being pressured early and often. Duquesne applied more pressure but waited to do so until the final 15-20 minutes as it was not part of the team principles the Dukes have never wavered against this season, something backed up by eight consecutive positive results.

During the same time, Duquesne stayed on the ground with the passes instead of long balls through the air.

The switch to press caused some issues on Akron’s end, but as soon as Duquesne pressed, it went away from that and offered a pass through the air during which the Zips immediately taking the ball into the attacking third for a shot on goal.

Quickly Duquesne abandoned the press after this and doubled down with multiple substitutions.

“You want to stay true to your principles almost entirely,” said Brooks. “It’s just little tweaks to the system, it’s not really going away from principles, it’s just can we exploit this as opposed to that. Principles are more high-level guiding objectives that lead you and within that there are nuances that you can still take advantage of.

We changed a couple of things in that last 15-20 to make sure we applied a little more pressure and tried to create more chaos in the attacking third. I think it worked to an extent, it’s a learning moment for all of us.”

Captain Maxi Hopfer had a little bit more of a somber tone than normal describing the loss, one the team believes stings.

“The feeling isn’t good, we’re soccer players and we want to win,” he said. “The reaction from the boys is that there are some not so nice words going on right now and that’s okay because we’re a team and we’ll figure it out together.”

Duquesne next travels to Foggy Bottom for a Saturday-afternoon date at George Washington as Atlantic 10 play resumes. The Dukes will do so looking for a goal first time in 235 minutes.

GAMEDAY INFO

#24 Duquesne starters (6-1-2/1-0-1 A-10)- Domenic Nascimben (GK), Christoffer Vie Angell, Jesper Moksnes, Torge Witteborg, Maxi Hopfer, Jacob Casha, Harper Cook, Anthony Harding, Nate Dragisich, Ask Ekeland, Cameron Territo

#25 Akron starters (5-2-2)- Mitch Budler (GK), Jonas Buechte, Malik Henry, Jason Shokalook, Renato Kauzlaric, Will Jackson, Josef Paulus, Johnny Fitzgerald, Dyson Clapier, Joel Sangwa, Ashton Kamdem

Goals: Dyson Clapier 4th 53′

Yellow Cards- Cameron Territo DUQ 18′, Duquesne Bench 29′, Johnny Fitzgerald AKR 38′, Tom Tzabari DUQ 78′

Shots- Akron 15 (5 on frame), Duquesne 6 (0 on frame)

PHOTO GALLERY

PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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