Buoyed by the emotions of senior day, recovering from an earlier-week loss to Pitt and trying to hold onto first place in the Atlantic 10 Conference, the Duquesne Men’s Soccer Team got off to a quick start, but could not hold the advantage, instead having to settle for a 2-2 tie against Fordham Saturday night at Rooney Field.
It did not take long following the game for the players and coaching staff to be made aware of Saint Louis defeating Dayton, which now means it is the Billikens who control the conference now and with a win next Saturday could in theory host for the duration of the tournament.
The players were rather quiet during stretches, but not much had to be said as it not only knew that they had earned a tie which felt like a loss, but done so at one of the more inopportune times of the season.
“Fordham is a good program and they were playing for their A-10 future tonight,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “They gave it everything they had and this is part of the maturation process for this group. That’s the takeaway from tonight can we continue to grow and mature as a program to establish ourselves as one of the top teams of this conference?”
Duquesne set out to win this game for its eight seniors honored in Ade Akinjogbin, Rodrigo Albayeros, Nick Smith, Nate Dragisich, Anthony Harding Logan Muck, Domenic Nascimben and Kendall Newman, but instead lost that momentum as Fordham played with energy as it was battling for its playoff life.
First Ask Ekeland scored his team-leading eighth goal in the 21st minute. Dragisich was set to take set piece, but was overruled by Ekeland, who put the ball into the goal.
Two minutes later, Maxi Hopfer was in the attacking third and found Jacob Casha in the middle of the box for what became his third goal of the season.
Almost immediately after, with Fordham goalkeeper Callum James off of his line, Ekeland attempted a long ball, but got a bit too much air on it, allowing for a save to be made.
After that, Fordham began to take over the game, overwhelming Duquesne with desire and energy. Duquesne had opened the game an aggressive and energized side, but some of that dissipated as now the Dukes were trying to remain in front come halftime.
With Duquesne having conceded a header goal from Timo Hummrich, it was able to hold the lead and attempt to regroup, though not before Nascimben had to make a diving stop in the closing seconds of the first half.
Two minutes into the second half, Fordham found an equalizer. Daniel D’Ippolito, who was the one whose shot was stopped just prior to halftime, would not be denied for a second time and though Nascimben got a piece of the shot, it was not enough keep the ball out of the net.
Fordham did hit the top crossbar later on in the half, but Duquesne was able to find itself defensively. Jayden Da came back in during the 57th minute and his play seemed to settle the Dukes down.
It took a while longer for Duquesne to sustain consistent connection, and the Dukes had a set piece in the final minute but could not put a third goal in, securing a tie which very much disappointed the team as it felt two points had gotten away, especially playing at home.
“We can let it sting tonight but we have to make sure we take this feeling into Saturday,” said Nascimben. “We still have a chance at hosting, and we need to hang onto that and use that as motivation. It hurts but we still feel like there is a lot to learn from this and we still have a young team. It’s out of our hands and we still can get a win to end the regular season and we’re still undefeated at home.”
Though Duquesne does not lead the conference at the moment, its main goal of winning the Atlantic 10 has not been affected.
“The fact that we’re in contention for a regular-season conference champ is fantastic and a feather in the hat for these guys, they’ve earned that,” Brooks said. “We have to keep focusing on us and not lose sight of our original goals.”
Duquesne has achieved one of its goals though in that it will host at least one Atlantic 10 Championship game with its 14 point, something that is a first in the program’s history. Given the Dukes have set a program record of 15 games without a loss at Rooney Field, this provides a certain advantage.
Originally Duquesne was to play at VMI on Tuesday, but the game was cancelled, allowing for the Dukes to rest some legs, avoid a two-day road trip and focus energy on Saturday’s regular-season finale at La Salle.
“I think it’s a huge blessing in disguise,” said Nascimben. “We don’t have to go to Virginia and get minutes out of legs already are tired. Get the focus on the important game so I’m glad we get that opportunity to rest.”
Duquesne starters (10-2-4/4-0-3 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
Fordham (3-2-9/1-1-5 A-10)- Callum James (GK), Jack Sluys, Timo Hummrich, Conrado Duhour, Sebastian Fabrin, Ben Shepherd, Florian Deletioglu, Ben Lekperic, Daniel Espeleta, Jakob Gesien, Savvas Christoforou
Goals- Ask Ekeland DUQ 8th 15′, Jacob Casha DUQ 3rd 17′, Timo Hummrich FOR 3rd 25′, Daniel D’Ippolito FOR 1st 46′
Cautions- Ask Ekeland DUQ 21′, Savvas Christoforou FOR 21′, Ade Akinjogbin DUQ 41′, Florian Deletioglu FOR 56′, Maxi Hopfer DUQ 72′, Ben Lekperic FOR 75′, Duquesne Team 78′
Shots- Fordham 27 (12 on frame) Duquesne 12 (8 on frame)
Corner kicks Fordham 7 Duquesne 2