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Duquesne Men’s Soccer stands tall in A-10 opener

As the Duquesne Men’s Soccer Saturday night, Atlantic 10 opener against Massachusetts reached its conclusion, loud shouts of support from the several alumni in attendance, trickled down to the field as the Dukes had to stand tall one last time.

When the clock expired, several Dukes made an effort to celebrate a 1-0 victory before falling to the floor in exhaustion having given everything they had in order to start conference play on the right foot.

“These experiences are spectacular learning moments, not just for on the pitch, but just the rest of your life,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “There’s going to be times where things don’t go your way and you still have to find a way to battle through. It’s a tough gritty group that found a way to impose our will.”

This is Duquesne’s fourth win in the last five games and first triumph over UMass since 2012, a streak which saw two losses, and most recently two draws.

The Dukes were outshot 26-5 in the game, but it was an 11th-minute breakthrough that saw Nate Dragisich and Jayden Da connect to Ask Ekeland for the game’s lone goal.

It was Ekeland’s fourth goal and first since Aug. 27

“I just had to finish and for me it was easy,” said Ekeland of the goal. “I’m privileged to have teammates as good as I have. You see the passing, bam, bam bam, it goes quick, and we’ve been doing it in practice for many weeks, months even. We just have to keep that relationship going and keep on believing.”

When Duquesne regrouped in the locker room, Brooks discussed the bravery of how that goal unfolded, besting a press the Minutemen set up for the duration of this game.

By all accounts, the second half was even more of a grind, as the Dukes were consistently defending and keeping the ball out of the net.

UMass had 11 corners in the game, but the Dukes were able to successfully fend off all of these set pieces.

“To be fair it was a grind,” Ekeland responded. “I didn’t feel like we played our best game, but I have to give credit to the back line tonight, the back three especially. They were unbelievable, every ball they got and it’s so easy for everyone else to play on this team. The game was not the best but we grinded it out and that’s what matters in the end.”

It was that grind that Duquesne had prepared for and were able to match, a sign that the team is displaying more connection and has developed a certain mentality.

“We started the season a little sloppy,” confessed Ekeland. “The relations were not exactly where they were. We knew we had the players and were capable. We just needed to have that mentality and relations together and then we started going. We just have to keep on grinding. We showed again we’re a team and that’s what it’s all about.”

In a 2-0 week, Duquesne had to respond to plenty of adversity. First on Wednesday against Robert Morris when a red card left the Dukes a man down and then Saturday evening when UMass tried to bend a defense which refused to break.

Brooks’s huddle with the team included the aforementioned approximately 20 alumni was short and quite clear as he showed appreciation to everyone in the circle for making a difference and impact in getting the result.

“We’ve been talking a lot about dealing with adversity and always thinking next action and that’s what those guys did tonight,” stated Brooks. “They literally gave us everything and stayed focused on the next action. Now we have to make sure they know that’s the standard. You can’t let your defensive performance drop below that and now can we pick the offense back up?”

As Duquesne prepares for a non-conference detour with its Tuesday afternoon contest against Xavier, it does so a far more connected group.

This can also be said for Zoltan Nagy as the freshman goalkeeper has become more comfortable and confident in goal, now not having conceded a goal in the last 190 minutes of game action.

“We’re just grittier,” Brooks said of his group. “We understand who we are better, what we need to do to get results and that’s what you’re seeing on nights like tonight.”


Duquesne starters (4-1-1/1-0 A-10)- Christoffer Vie Angell, Jack Emanuel, Jesper Moksnes, Tom Tzabari, Ashton Jell, Ask Ekeland, Nate Dragisich, Anthony DiFalco, Zoltan Nagy (GK), Grant McIntosh, Jayden Da

UMass starters (3-2-2/0-1 A-10)- Matt Zambetti (GK), Mike Willis, Aidan Kelly, Nick Zielonka, Jack Englebert, Matt Cence, Alec Hughes, Ryan Levay, Pierre de la Croix-Vaubois, Brad Moccio, Alex Brown

Goal- Ask Ekeland DUQ (4th 11′)

Cautions- Anthony DiFalco DUQ 58′, Shane Velez UMass 67′, Ryan Goodhew DUQ 72′

Shots- UMass 26 (6 on frame), Duquesne 5 (all on goal)

Corners- UMass 11 Duquesne 2

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