The 1,055 fans attending the Duquesne Men’s Soccer game waited for an equalizing goal in the final minutes of an Atlantic 10 Championship semifinal contest against Loyola Chicago, but when Jesper Moksnes’s shot fell long and the buzzer sounded, a 16-game winning streak at Rooney Field was snapped.
It is near certain that Duquesne’s (11-4-4/4-1-3 A-10) season has come to an end, a reality that saw multiple Dukes take over 20 minutes to get back inside the locker room, processing a finality to their college soccer journeys.
“Pittsburgh loves its winners, and I think we’ve been able to put on a good show for a couple of years now,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks told PSN.
“This one hurts, no doubt, every loss does, but we have to learn from it and continue to grow. Our goal is can we continue to move forward with this program? Can we bring in the right character guys with the work rate, energy and talent to continue to elevate? Then crowds like this become the norm. That’s the culture we want to create on this campus that can absolutely be a campus that can win championships and go after big things season in and season out.”
Duquesne’s goal this season was consistently stated as it wanted to become Atlantic 10 champions, something which is now impossible to become reality with this loss.
After the loss, Brooks huddled his team together and offered his thanks. His love for this group was evident, which gave everything, but Wednesday evening Brooks’s opinion was that Duquesne did not get the job done.
Early on, Loyola Chicago had four corner kicks in the first 2:39 of the game, as Duquesne battled itself and a Ramblers squad seeking to avenge a regular-season loss, and had to do so with one of its more aggressive players in Fabian Becerra who was unable due to being assessed a red card in a quarterfinal victory over George Washington.
Without Becerra’s organized aggression, the Ramblers stayed organized and held Duquesne without a shot in the first half. It did have a look that trickled towards goal in the first half, but goalkeeper Simon Jillson, calmly was able to get a hand on it.
After a scoreless first half, Loyola Chicago broke through on the run at 59′ as Marc Torrellas got a quick shot off and Duquesne goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben got a hand on it but could not corral the effort.
This would prove the difference on the scoreboard as the Dukes saw their season come to an end.
“If you give up too many shots one is bound to find the back of the net,” said Brooks. “We weren’t quite good enough in those areas tonight and ultimately they got the one that they needed. I feel bad for Dom and this group of seniors that go out on a loss. You tip your hat to guys like Dom, the best goalkeeper in the conference and in my opinion in the country. We created one of the stingiest defenses in the country. There were a lot of positives this season this one does not define who we are.
“We had a goal this year to win the A-10 Championship, and obviously we fell short of that. Anytime you fall short of goals, much less ending careers at the collegiate realm, it’s hard.”
Admittedly Duquesne entered the Atlantic 10 Championship working on its maturity piece after a draw against a hungrier Fordham side and the same at La Salle, where the Explorers were fighting for their season to continue.
Even so, Duquesne hosted two games this season, which was unprecedented in this Atlantic 10 Championship format, were ranked for several weeks, saw four players (Nascimben, Ask Ekeland, Maxi Hopfer and Torge Witteborg) garner Atlantic 10 regular season honors and had one of the greatest starts in the program’s history.
“We’re at a great place right now and it’s been a while since the early 2000’s,” Brooks stated. “They’re a great group to build on. This is going to sting a lot for this group and that’s something we’ll use to motivate and continue to push forward.”
While Loyola Chicago celebrated a championship date at Saint Louis Sunday afternoon, Duquesne had several players on the ground processing a journey which saw it accomplish a goal of earning respect.
For the seniors, it was a reflection of how far the program has come in their respective time as Dukes and now the program will have to spin forward.
Brooks for one refuses to settle and believes that this team is not yet where it needs to be and that the quest to take the next step has already begun.
“Through recruiting we’re going to continue to add the best players we can to continue to push the already stellar group of guys we have,” Brooks finalized. “Iron sharpens iron and we have to continue to move forward and have high standards. This is just the beginning.”
Duquesne starters (11-4-4/4-1-3 A-10): Domenic Nascimben (GK), Christoffer Vie Angell, Jesper Moksnes, Torge Witteborg, Zach Mowka, Maxi Hopfer, Elmar Jonsson, Harper Cook, Nate Dragisich, Ask Ekeland, Cameron Territo
Loyola Chicago starters (9-2-6/3-2-3 A-10): Simon Jillson (GK), Andrew Mitchell, Lukas Ender, Billy Hency, Oscar Dueso, Jason Ybarra, John Gates, Bryan Silver, Andrew Schweinert, Marc Torrellas, Julian Cisneros
Goal: Marc Torrellas (LUC) 3rd 59′
Caution: Andrew Mitchell (LUC) 40′
Shots: Loyola 21 (six on frame) Duquesne 13 (one on frame)
Corner kicks: Loyola 15 Duquesne 7