It took all of three minutes for a yellow card to be issued from referee Peter Dhima and from that point on, the 25th-ranked Duquesne Men’s Soccer Team had to manage both game and emotion in what became a 2-1 victory over Davidson Saturday evening at Rooney Field.
“The energy is going to flow and ultimately every conference games is tough,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “The guys rode the wave of emotion about as well as you can. We did what we needed to do. You know certain calls are going to go against you that shouldn’t, and certain challenges will go against you that maybe shouldn’t but that’s part of college soccer. How they responded was nice to see.”
Duquesne now has won 10 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2005 and 2006, while extending its unbeaten home streak to 14 games.
This game featured numerous stoppages whether it be injury timeouts or seven yellow cards, but in the end Duquesne stood tall thanks to two goals from its captain Maxi Hopfer.
“Having some emotions is part of the game and it’s good to have on a soccer field because that’s how it is,” he said. “I love that. We stayed patient… and no one got hurt.”
The first came in the 22nd minute, where Hopfer found an angle at the 10-yard line and fired a shot past Davidson goalkeeper Giacomo Piccardo.
Hopfer then scored his second with assists from Elmar Jonsson and Cameron Territo. Duquesne went out wide and the Austrian got his foot on the ball, converting into a wide-open right side of the goal.
The scores give Hopfer five goals, one off the team high, and 13 points, which matches Ask Ekeland’s output.
His body of work this week totals three goals and two assists in a pair of victories, confirming Brooks’s belief earlier this season, that Hopfer’s tenacity would lead to more goals.
“It’s the result of hard work, you work hard week in and week out and I’m happy that it finally clicked,” said Hopfer. “I’m a striker it’s my job, but I play for a team which plays really well and gives everything.”
Davidson was able to score its goal on a penalty kick, though Duquesne did not believe the contact in the box warranted the opportunity.
Once the call was given, Duquesne goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben vocally attempted to influence a change in who would take the kick and though he guessed properly on which side, was unable to keep the equalizer out of the back of the net.
Duquesne’s play had taken a downward turn before that goal.
In the first half, it had two genuine chances to add a second goal for halftime and possibly rest some legs a bit more with the next game coming Monday evening but were denied by the post and a lack of cohesion on a well-placed ball in the box.
Defensively, Duquesne was experiencing some inconsistencies with both junior midfielder Harper Cook and junior defender Torge Witteborg repeatedly vocalizing a need to play tighter.
Brooks appreciated this effort from the sidelines and encouraged it as it is leadership from two players who have consistently been in battles and understand how to earn successful results.
Duquesne was able to find its form with what ended up being the game winner as the crowd erupted and members of the men’s basketball team alternating its support between ole chants and the gritty dance.
Reflecting on the win, both Hopfer and Nascimben stated that it displayed growth from the team, as in the past this very well may have been a loss, both of the game itself and composure.
Both believed this effort was an accurate display of how much this team has grown and one that is needed with four games remaining in the regular season, two of which are Atlantic 10 contests.
“We had to stick to our principles and battle hard. We don’t lose here and are trying to keep that extended as long as possible,” Nascimben said. “I think it goes as a reinforcement that we can do these things.”
Duquesne will have to turn the page quickly as it heads to face Pitt Monday evening.
Last year, Duquesne opened its season with a 7-0 loss at Pitt and it was used as motivation for a run that would result in an Atlantic 10 Championship finals appearance. Now Duquesne heads to its local rival as the only ranked team between the pair.
“We’ve got to ride the emotion, we know there’s going to be adrenaline because you will always be up to play an ACC team, we’ve got to come in and do our job,” said Brooks. “It’s awesome for the city and soccer in our community. Hopefully we’ll provide a fun night for everyone involved.”
As for any questions about whether Duquesne will be tired heading into the matchup, it will practice Sunday before sunrise and then plans to go all out Monday night, using adrenaline as an advantage.
If anything, Brooks agreed with the assessment that from a date structure standpoint, these pair of games being so close together resembles an Atlantic 10 Championship schedule, which will only help his team moving forward.
“We need to make sure we come in, judge it on its own merits and play it like any other game,” Nascimben added.
Duquesne starters (10-1-3/4-0-2 A-10)- Domenic Nascimben (GK), Christoffer Vie Angell, Jesper Moksnes, Torge Witteborg, Maxi Hopfer, Jacob Casha, Elmar Jonsson, Harper Cook, Nate Dragisich, Ask Ekeland, Cameron Territo
Davidson (4-8-3/1-4-1 A-10)- Giacomo Piccardo (GK), Eamon Moylan, Thomas Vincent, Denis Kiroutchenkov, Jack Brown, Justin Stone, Luke Bryant, Maddux Reece, Trey Gardiner, Nicholas Cavallo, Alonzo Clarke
Goals- Maxi Hopfer DUQ 4th 22′, Denis Kiroutchenkov DAV 7th 52′, Maxi Hopfer DUQ 5th 60′
Yellow Cards- Ask Ekeland DUQ 3′, Alonzo Clarke DAV 12′, Thomas Vincent DAV 17′, Eamon Moylan DAVI 58, DUQ Team 85′, Anthony Harding DUQ 85′, Maddux Reece DAV 86′
Shots- Duquesne 13 (6 on frame) Davidson 12 (6 on frame)