The past week had provided two tough challenges at West Virginia and Pitt which both wound up being setbacks, but the Duquesne Women’s Soccer Team celebrated its senior day with plenty of smiles but also some desperation, ultimately defeating Saint Francis (PA) 2-0 Sunday afternoon at Rooney Field.
Following Thursday’s 6-1 setback at Pitt, Duquesne quickly left Ambrose Urbanic Field and in the couple of days leading up to this contest, it opted to focus on itself specifically when it came to creating chances, dominating possession and keeping the ball.
All of those aspects were improved upon in stretches on a day where field temperatures were just south of 100 degrees.
“It was a battle and there was a lot of stuff for us to overcome,” Duquesne coach Al Alvine said. ” We came out today on senior day, where you never know what you’re going to get with that. Overall, we scored two goals, and we didn’t concede any. We got a lot of kids in the game and it’s a good senior day for our kids. Obviously, a hell of a lot of soccer to play, but we’ll take it and move forward. Every game we’re finding out more about our team.”
Duquesne made three changes to its starting lineup with goalkeeper Savanna Keppy making her first start as a Duke in her second season with the program. Forward Brooke Kirstein and forward Emma Bundy all earning nods in a tribute to the team’s senior day.
Defender Karley Steiner, goalkeeper Maddy Neundorfer and forward Cami Taylor also received pregame recognition, as did graduate students Jaimi Araujo and Anna Campanella.
“It was really special,” Steinher said of the pregame events. “The girls did a really great job putting everything together and trying their best to make it feel like a senior day no matter how early it was in the season. It got us hyped for today and we needed a win.”
Additionally to this, though she did not start, Mackenzie Leeder played 80 minutes, her most this season and made a difference with her play and steadiness.
Early on, Duquesne had some lapses within possession whether it was playing too slow or taking too many touches for Alvine’s liking.
When the opportunity for a hydration break set in, the Dukes had an opportunity to check in with each other.
“Before the game today we all decided we were going to pick individual goals and then a measurable team goal and then just a regular team goal,” stated Steiner. “I feel like we were holding each other accountable.”
A trio of subs took to the field and this included sophomore Lindsay Krafchick, who previously started 19 of 20 contests for the team.
Shortly after these changes, another was made as fellow sophomore Morgan Kulniszewski entered and within seconds of her subbing in the Dukes were on the ball and on the attack.
Kulniszewski initially saw a potential play get broken up by SFU’s Sophia Filipowski, but refused to give up on the play. She was rewarded by finding Krafchick on a cross and her waiting header found the back of the net.
“I saw Morgan had the ball and I know she’s good at crosses so I just tried to get to the back post as fast as I could,” Krafchick said of her first career goal. “I was so happy because usually I’m the defensive player but just getting it in the back of the net was really exciting.”
27′ | First career goal by Lindsay Krafchick!!
— Duquesne Women’s Soccer (@DuqWSoccer) September 3, 2023
Alvine credited the “always ready” Krafchick for being exactly where she needed to be and credited her header as an uncommon play on the cross, though he called it “perfect”.
For Kulniszewski, this was her second assist both of her season and Dukes career.
After playing in five games last year, Kulniszewski has already matched this total a season later, with 12 more minutes in the process. It is clear as Atlantic 10 play draws closer and the bench becomes shorter, that Alvine is pleased with what his forward is bringing to the field.
“Her speed and her energy,” said Alvine. “She’s good on the ball, works her butt off and has been doing well in training. We wanted to reward her with more time, young kids that go out there and make things happen. In the first half when she came in, she had an instant impact on the game. Super happy for her, she deserves it.”
Duquesne struck once more with 15 seconds remaining in the first half. Maya Matesa earned her third goal of the season when she corralled a long pass from Kulniszewski and utilized her right foot after creating separation to finish low left in the back of the net.
This sequence was a play where Duquesne used its defense, to transition into a run of play which established urgency which culminated in Matesa’s score.
45’| Maya Matesa scores a goal to take the Dukes lead up to 2!!!
— Duquesne Women’s Soccer (@DuqWSoccer) September 3, 2023
Defensively Duquesne did not surrender a corner kick and when Neundorfer returned to net in the second half, she did not record any saves, a testament towards the team’s defensive tenacity.
“It’s really relieving to know that the hard work up front is paying off, especially when we’re asking the front line to press and play a lot of defense,” Steinher assessed. “It’s nice knowing they can get some of the recognition and it takes a little bit of the weight off our shoulders and it’s fun too.”
It is clear that Duquesne has started to find something once again as it will prepare to return to Rooney Field for a Thursday night contest against Fairleigh Dickinson.
“I think (the win is) just going to give us more confidence leading into the next couple of games,” concluded Krafchick.
Duquesne Starters (2-4-0)– Savanna Keppy (GK), Karley Steinher, Margey Brown, Cami Taylor, Jaimi Araujo, Brooke Kirstein, Anna Campanella, Emma Bundy, Jayden Sharpless, Eva LaVecchia, Mackenzie Muir
Saint Francis Starters (0-6-0)– Emma Sawich (GK), Bella Pesce, Lauren Pyle, Tomke Dziesiaty, Caterina Schiavo, Claire Miko, Paige Theobald, Savannah Schoonmaker, Raine Korpics, Sophia Filipowski, Rita Kendziora
Goals– Lindsay Krafchick DUQ (1st 26′), Maya Matesa DUQ (3rd 44′)
Cautions– Cami Taylor DUQ 54′, Cami Taylor DUQ 88′ (RED)
Shots– Duquesne 20 (10 on frame) Saint Francis 4 (1 on frame)
Corners– Duquesne 7 Saint Francis 0