The Duquesne Men’s Soccer Team already had established a repeat berth in the Atlantic 10 Championships, but on senior night, the Dukes were hungry for more.
When sophomore midfielder Ask Ekeland put away a ball in the 84th minute, Duquesne scored the deciding goal in a 2-1 victory Saturday evening at Rooney Field again successfully utilizing a bend, not break philosophy.
“I think you saw it on full display,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said of the triumph. “We’ve had a bad habit this year of giving up early goals. Unfortunately, we have a lot of practice at it. It was good energy from the guys, good response, they did exactly what we needed them to do, so we’ll take it.”
Duquesne’s victory allowed it to match its female counterparts with a fifth-place regular season finish. The Dukes will head back to face Davidson in an Atlantic 10 Championship quarterfinal contest, and do so seeking revenge for a 2-1 road setback when the team met in regular-season play.
Ekeland was responsible for both Duquesne goals on the evening, good for his 10th and 11th of the season. This ties him for fourth place in Dukes single-season history with Joshua Patterson (2012) and teammate Maxi Hopfer (2021).
The first goal came on an 18th minute set piece from the 29-yard line as his right-footed strike found the top left portion of the goal.
ASK EKELAND DOES IT AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/rlURKqdxAk
— Duquesne Men’s Soccer (@DuqMSoccer) October 28, 2023
The second goal came in the 84th minute with helpers from Nate Dragisich and Tom Tzabari. Dragisich turned and found Ekeland on the run. The shot came from the eight yard-line and bounced in the bottom right portion of the goal.
“The goals you can’t put a price tag on that really, and big goals too,” stated Brooks. “Big goals in big moments that he’s scoring. I think he’d be the first to admit he didn’t have the best overall game tonight but popped up two goals tonight and that the sign of a special talent and I think that’s what he is.”
84′ | Ask Ekeland puts up another for the Dukes!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/5eRxtOVe36
— Duquesne Men’s Soccer (@DuqMSoccer) October 28, 2023
Despite the two scores, Ekeland was seen after the game speaking to Brooks, clearly unhappy with how he played.
It was an attribution to his high standards, values Brooks reasons explained why he earned a captain spot, why he has been leaned on all season and why the goals he has scored have come at such crucial times.
“To me I feel like there are more aspects to the game than just scoring the goals,” Ekeland determined. “I had two good moments in the game, but at the same time, there are a lot of important situations defensively off the ball and also on the ball where I’m not where I’m supposed to be. I keep myself to a high standard and my team expects me to do better in certain situations. When I score two goals I’ve got to take it and move on. Today it was decisive because we won 2-1 so I have to take the positive things and move on.”
This game saw Duquesne honor seven seniors in Jacob Casha, Nate Dragisich Ryan Goodhew, Tate Mohney, Zach Mowka, Cameron Territo and Tom Tzabari.
The group was recognized in a private pregame ceremony with parents and friends in attendance. Brooks took the opportunity to thank the parents for trusting his staff before bringing each senior up one at a time. Vice President of Athletics Dave Harper was present at the ceremony.
Each of the seniors either started or subbed in the first half, with each providing a boost of energy that helped guide Duquesne towards victory.
“The nice thing is we don’t play seniors just because they’re seniors,” assessed Brooks. “Every one of those guys deserved the minutes that they got, they’ve been working hard in training. Ultimately, they all came in and contributed one way or another. It was a great response from the squad but I’m super proud of this senior group, they’ve been a pleasure to work with. It’s nice to send them off with a win.”
Ekeland added that it would be sad when the season was over the senior left. He appreciated how from day one, the seven brought him into the group and likened the relationship to older brothers who are now lifelong friends that can be relied upon.
Duquesne went into this game needing some help to host a playoff game in a week’s time, but if things fell its way could have earned a third seed.
When Loyola Chicago bested Fordham, Duquesne’s chances of hosting were ended.
On top of that, the Dukes put themselves in an early hole when a corner set piece found the back of the net with Dylan Kwasnik scoring his first goal of the season in the eighth minute.
Ekeland’s two goals would prove the difference for Duquesne in this game.
When the clock hit zero, the Dukes celebrated the Atlantic 10 Championship appearance knowing it did so by drawing momentum from Saturday’s three points.
“Joy for sure because making the postseason is tough no matter what, this is a tough conference, an underrated conference,” Brooks opined. “The fact we were in the postseason is great, the fact that we already secured it, moving into this game was great. The guys responded even though they knew we already were in and showed up and played. Ultimately you can’t get complacent, this is the time of year you want to be peaking. We’re on that cusp.”
Duquesne now has two days off, a fact which pleased the players but was done to provide fresh legs for the trip to Davidson.
“It’s postseason, everything matters now,” concluded Brooks.
Duquesne starters (8-6-3, 4-2-2 A-10)- Christoffer Vie Angell, Jack Emanuel, Jesper Moksnes, Sam Bennett, Tom Tzabari, Ashton Jell, Ask Ekeland, Nate Dragisich, Anthony DiFalco, Zoltan Nagy (GK), Jayden Da
La Salle starters (5-8-4, 1-5-2 A-10)- Dylan Kwasnik, Justin Brunow, Andrew Rosenbaum, Omri Ezra, Sean Yurgel, Theo Maartensson, Americo Pereira, Paolo Kampula, Evan Watt, Drew Blackwell, Filip Sabatti (GK)
Goals– Dylan Kwasnik LAS (11′, 1st) Ask Ekeland DUQ (18′, 10th), Ask Ekeland DUQ (84′, 11th, 2nd of game)
Cautions– Theo Maartensson LAS 2′, Filip Sabatti LAS 48′, Jaxon Ervin DUQ 76′, Andrew Rosenbaum LAS 76′, LAS Bench RED 76′, LAS Bench 76′
Shots– La Salle 18 (5 on frame) Duquesne 11 (4 on frame)
Corners– La Salle 9 Duquesne 3