The Duquesne Men’s Soccer team had one last chance to salvage a draw against George Mason on a chilly fall evening when Ashton Jell took a point-blank shot that sailed long as both teams had players fall to the floor when time expired.
Duquesne’s 1-0 setback is its second consecutive and led to a quiet Dukes side at game’s end.
“The guys know how to do it, it’s there,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “I think you get to this time of year and it’s more about mindset and how you prepare yourself day in and day out for the grind of what this is. If your mindset is even slightly off, nights like tonight can happen.
“George Mason is a good team, but the stats were in our favor all the way around and if we take care of business, then we have three points more than we have now. It’s reminding them of where the standards need to be, hitting the reset button a little bit and going again because there’s no time.”
The Patriots are a side that on paper ranked towards the bottom of the conference coming into this match, but made the most of an opportunity which arose in the 56th minute when Patriots midfielder Luis Maestre’s shot was unable to be cleared as multiple Duquesne players dove on the floor and could not contain Kelly Janssen from finishing the play.
“We have aspirations to win championships so you can’t take your foot off the gas at any one point,” stated Brooks. “You can’t have those little mistakes that have been popping up these last two games. It’s absolutely a great moment for us to be reflective on that and realize we have more to give.”
Duquesne’s week started with a long bus trip to Davidson which saw the Dukes concede two goals in the first half. Upon returning the next day, the team attempted to regroup and despite the result Brooks did state that it was one of the better performances of the season.
A lot of the statistics back that assessment up, namely a 17-9 shot advantage and 12-3 corners advantage.
Duquesne did have several legitimate looks on goal and at one point down the stretch possessed the ball for a good 90 seconds in and just out of the box but could not get the critical look to find an equalizer.
There were multiple efforts which tested George Mason goalkeeper Jaume Salvado, but he stood tall in goal.
“I think it literally comes down to are you ready to give everything you’ve got every time you step on this field,” Brooks believes. “We have to have that reminder. There’s always going to be hiccups and bumps along the way and the idea is obviously you don’t concede much, again bend don’t break mentality. Tonight wasn’t meant to be for us, and we just have to be ready to go for Wednesday.”
Duquesne has had to deal with several injuries throughout the season, some of which held starters out of Saturday night’s game. Conversely, Maxi Hopfer and Jacob Casha, two players who consistently started a season ago and found success have been back on the pitch for the past few games. The latter played the full 90 minutes, more than doubling his previous season high of 41 minutes set Wednesday, while firing three shots in the process.
Much of Duquesne’s late offensive charges came with the ball on Casha’s foot as he drove towards the goal.
In the Dukes 11 games, 25 players have seen the field, meaning much of the roster has had to be ready in case their name and number are called.
“I don’t know if we’ve started the same lineup two games consecutively this year,” concluded Brooks. “It’s tough to create momentum off of that but you see the performances are at a level that is good enough to get a result if everything falls into place for us.”
Duquesne will have to quickly turn the page as a Wednesday contest at St. Bonaventure awaits. It will be the Dukes first contest in Olean since Mar. 13, 2021 with the past three contests all transpiring at Rooney Field.
Duquesne starters (5-4-2/2-2-1 A-10)- Christoffer Vie Angell, Sam Bennett, Maxi Hopfer, Jacob Casha, Ben Pleavin, Ashton Jell, Ask Ekeland, Nate Dragisich, Anthony DiFalco, Zoltan Nagy (GK), Grant McIntosh
George Mason starters (3-5-2/2-3-0 A-10)- Javi Sanchez, Erick Kilosho, Luis Maestre, Asparuh Slavov, David Garcia, Brent Fields, Jaume Salvado (GK), Will Carson, Souley Diouf, Henry Wachsman, Kelly Janssen
Goal– Kelly Janssen GMU (2nd 55′)
Cautions– Will Carson GMU 14′, Asparuh Slavov GMU 43′, Sam Bennett DUQ 50′
Shots– Duquesne 17 (4 on frame) George Mason 9 (6 on frame)
Corners– Duquesne 12 George Mason 3