Dom Ferro | Staff Writer
Under the lights and pouring rain on Saturday night, the Dukes (8-7-1, 3-4) narrowly lost to the Saint Louis University Billikens (10-5, 6-1) 1-0.
It was the final home game of the season and the last time seniors Zach Hall, Robbie McKelvey, Scott Rissler and Owen Rossi would play soccer as a Duke at Rooney Field. The game was crucial for the Dukes in securing a playoff spot in the A-10 Soccer Championship.
The Dukes are now tied for sixth place with three other teams and only one remaining game. This makes their upcoming game a must-win to make the playoffs. With a win in Saturday’s match, the Dukes would have been confident with their ranking in the A10 standings. Now they have La Salle, George Mason and George Washington right besides them at 3-4 conference records.
This year’s team was looking to match a school record of home wins with 7 but they unfortunately finished just shy at 6-2-1 at home this year.
“Always when you’re home, you want to put forward your best effort for your fans, friends and family. I think we’ve done that every time we’ve stepped on this field, so I’m extremely proud of the guys and how they’ve battled for every game we’ve had at home.” said head coach Chase Brooks.
Unfortunately the Dukes home field advantage didn’t have much effect on the game. The inclement weather led to little fans in attendance, and not only did the constant rain affect the amount of fans, it affected the entire game.
“The ball is moving faster, everyone is tight. It adds a little feistiness to it,” said Brooks.
Forward Manuel Busquets agreed. “Today was about fighting, couldn’t really play the ball. Just fight, fight, fight.”
It was a highly competitive and physical game. In total, 25 fouls were called during the game. One of the fouls was more costly than the rest. In the 36th minute of the game the Billikens were awarded a penalty kick after Duquesne’s Gavin Watt was called for a hand ball. Devin Boyce of Saint Louis scored in the lower left corner of the net and gave them the lead 1-0.
It was one of the two shots on goal in the game. The other goal was saved by Robbie McKelvey, the two time A-10 Defensive Player of the Week.
The penalty kick was one of the only opportunities either team had a shot to score during the game. Both defenses played strong, with only three shots on goal in the entire 90 minutes.
Tensions arose early in the second half when multiple players from both teams had a physical altercation, leading to a Billikens’ players jersey being almost completely ripped. Players and fans were vocally upset about the delay of game after the fight. The game was delayed for several minutes for the referees to make a decision.
After the long assessment of what had happened seconds earlier, Duquesne’s Nathan Dossantos was given a yellow card in the 54th minute.
From the kickoff to the final whistle the rain had poured with the same intensity. The rain fit the somber mood after the game.
The final score was 1-0. It was the twelfth time out of their 16 games the Dukes had lost by a single goal. Senior Robbie McKelvey pulled his jersey over his face in a showing of dissatisfaction with the games outcome.
“At least we don’t lose by five but it still hurts. We are always so close. But now we have to win next week to make the A10 Championship,” Busquets said.
SLU came into Saturday’s game sitting comfortably in second place in the A10, they have only lost to one conference rival this year. Duquesne still has never won against Saint Louis in soccer.
Saint Louis leads the overall series 11-0-1, including a 6-0 series advantage in Pittsburgh. Last season, Duquesne earned its first point against the Billikens in a 0-0 double-overtime draw in St. Louis.
“The nice thing about the sport of soccer is that anyone can beat anyone on any given day, and I don’t think there’s one thing. We
just need to do more and grow up as a program.” said Brooks.
Duquesne will conclude their regular season at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Davidson to see if they can hold onto a top eight spot in the conference and make the A10 Championship tournament for the first time since the 2016 season.