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Duquesne earns first A-10 Championship berth since 2019

The Duquesne Women’s Soccer Team knew its task was simple Thursday night when it hosted St. Bonaventure at Rooney Field and an execution which saw 27 shots, a tie for fifth place in program history, it still had to sweat the final outcome.

No matter as Duquesne not only earned a 2-1 win but advanced to the Atlantic 10 playoff tournament for the first time since 2019.

Duquesne is currently tied for fourth place with Davidson with one last regular-season game remaining. All told, the Dukes will look to defeat George Washington Saturday and with some help, could secure hosting at least one Atlantic 10 Championship contest.

“Everything was on the line, we had to get into the tournament tonight, but there is so much work to do,” sophomore forward Brooke Kirstein said. “We can’t get all cocky and confident, we just have to go out Sunday and play like we are still trying to get into the tournament because we want a home game.”

Duquesne peppered 27 shots together, which tied for fifth-most in program history, and 17 of those shots were on frame.

Early on Duquesne were the clear aggressors but had difficulty sustaining meaningful offense in the attacking third as it was caught ball watching instead of looking up and assessing a given situation.

Duquesne coach Al Alvine told the team to value quality over quantity and with St. Bonaventure having a six-foot goalkeeper, longer shots were not deemed an ideal circumstance.

Prior to Thursday’s game, Alvine had a premonition, telling Margey Brown challenging her to make this the game that she scored.

Brown answered that test with a hard-hit shot the found the right side of the net, good for the first of her career.

Kirstein would not be outdone as her tenacity in the box, gave her the first scored in a game and career with Eva LaVecchia earning an assist on the play.

“I’m so excited, I’ve been working so hard for this,” said Kirstein. “I just tell myself that I can do it. I keep working hard every day. My confidence goes in and out, but at the end of the day I know what I am capable of and the second I got out there I thought that it was my time to shine.”

Though there was a letdown when Rachel Hutchison in the 86th minute, Duquesne possessed the ball, draining regulation time.

Duquesne saw several teammates embrace each other but were unaware of making the A-10 Championships, until Alvine was briefed with scoring updates.

It was then when Duquesne’s preseason goal had become a reality, though Alvine believes the next step is keeping everyone’s feet on the ground in order to host a first-round Atlantic 10 Championship contest.

Hosting a home game certainly would help a Duquesne team which has been banged up according to Alvine, as a trio of seniors honored for senior day have led by example with their bodies less than 100%.

Captain Sarah Wilkinson went down with what was presumed to be a season-ending injury with multiple fractures in her face, a pool of blood in the penalty area and needing carried off the field.

Kayla Winicki suffered an ankle sprain at Massachusetts, but is currently back on the field, helping the team contribute. Jaimi Araujo got stomped on at Loyola Chicago and has experienced a good deal of pain.

This trio joined Natalie Bell, Bailey Farabaugh, Ashley Rodriguez and Sydney Routch as seniors recognized before the game.

“It’s great to get the win on senior night and send them off on a positive note for the home regular season stretch,” Alvine said. “These kids eight really special kids, the fifth-year kids especially have been through a lot. Probably most happy for them, that they’ll have an opportunity to get into the tournament again and maybe make some noise.”

Another of those fifth-year kids, was the aforementioned Rodriguez who also has braved bumps and bruises to put in the full 90 minutes for a 10th consecutive game.

Duquesne is a largely youthful group and achieving this goal certainly required a certain level of focus. As far as recent history the road has not been kind to Duquesne, though with one game remaining, the Dukes have posted a 3-2-1 record away from Rooney Field, good for its most road victories since 2017.

In addition, Duquesne has had its share of troubles against teams it should beat, based upon the conference standings, but the Dukes did enough to come away with four points over these last pair of games, first at Loyola Chicago, a trip which featured a long bus ride both ways, and then Thursday with this victory

It’s a testament to their ability to stick to the task at hand, be disciplined and be organized, said Alvine. “When you look at the back five, Maddy (Neundorfer) this is her first year as a starter, (Lindsay) Krafchick is a freshman, Eva is a freshman, Mac Leeder is a sophomore, they have shown maturity and developed good chemistry with each other.”

At the beginning of the season, Duquesne struggled to consistently communicate and get the ball past midfield, but instead of panicking, the Dukes dug in deeper trying to build on-field chemistry.

With the chemistry off the chart after Thursday evening, Kirstein believes there is plenty for her side to be motivated.

“We’ve been slept on for 2-3 years and last year dealt with injuries,” Kirstein added. “This year we said we need to do it and we found a way. It wasn’t easy, but we did it.”

GAMEDAY INFO

Duquesne (6-5-3/4-2-3 A-10): Maddy Nuendorfer (GK), Ashley Rodriguez, Margey Brown, Lindsay Krafchick, Jessica White, Jaimi Araujo, Mackenzie Leeder, Emma Bundy, Eva LaVecchia, Mackenzie Muir, Sarah Wilkinson

St. Bonaventure (3-8-6/1-8-1 A-10): Christine Napoli, Rachel Hutchison, Amber Achladis, Cristina Torres, McKenna Robinson, Maya Palmer, Claire Davis, Kenzie Tarmino, Bridget Kennedy, Lydia Choban, Chiara Gottinger (GK)

Goals: Margey Brown DUQ 1st 52′, Brooke Kirstein DUQ 1st 75′, Rachel Hutchison SBU 86′

Shots: Duquesne 27 (17 on goal) St. Bonaventure 6 (5 on goal)

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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