Bri Schmid | Staff Writer
The Duquesne Dukes women’s soccer team propelled itself into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed when it finished off the regular season strong with a hard fought battle against the La Salle Explorers.
The Dukes hosted the Explorers on Oct. 30 in what became a very wet and chilly fall day shortly after the beginning of the game. With this being the final game of the regular season, stakes were already high. Throw in the fact that this was also Duquesne’s Senior Day, and it’s safe to say emotions were flying. And in her final game on Rooney Field, senior forward Cydney Staton had a game to remember recording two goals in Duquesne’s 2-1 victory — the second coming with just four seconds left in double overtime to record a last-minute win for her team.
“I don’t even know, I’m like speechless,” Staton said. “I have been waiting for a goal all season … I don’t think I could have felt any better about it.”
Staton and her eight fellow seniors — Maddie Layman, Haley Yow, Jorden Thornton, Maggie Mayo, A.J. Baroffio, Ashley Gault, Dani Wenger and Elyssa Anderson — were honored before the game and were given the majority of the playing time by their head coach Al Alvine.
The first half started rather evenly matched as neither seemed to really dominate the other and there were limited scoring chances for either side.
With 30 minutes left in the first half, the sky opened, and it began to pour. The turning point in the weather brought a turning point in the game, and things began to heat up.
La Salle took control of the ball and the field, managing to keep the play down on the Dukes’ end for a solid five minutes with aggressive attempts to score. But on a counterattack, sophomore forward Katie O’Connor was taking the ball down an open field to score what seemed to be a sure goal until Explorer Paige McDowell came in with an aggressive slide tackle, was red carded and forced to leave the pitch.
A missed penalty kick by Malea Fabean left the score 0-0 where it remained for the remainder of the half as Duquesne failed to capitalize with the Explorers forced to play the remainder of the game with only 10 players.
Needing a win to keep their playoff aspirations alive, La Salle came out much more aggressively in the second half with serious intentions of putting the game away as they continued to outshoot Duquesne at a staggering pace.
However, on a breakaway, Staton split the Explorers’ defense and drove to the goal, sending the ball soaring into the back of the net, scoring the first goal of the game and her first of the season.
The remainder of the second half would consist of numerous corner kicks that would not be converted into goals, a yellow card and even more rain. With seven minutes left in regulation, it seemed the Dukes would walk away with the win as they were in full control.
But in a stunning turn of events, the Explorers sent a soaring corner kick into the center where sophomore forward Maci Bower redirected it into the net, tying up the game and keeping the Explorers’ season alive as the game headed for extra time.
And overtime it was; two total. After 90 minutes of regulation and a 10 minute overtime period, Duquesne and La Salle were still knotted at 1-1, meaning that a second overtime was in store.
For virtually the entirety of the second overtime, it looked like a tie would be the final result that the nine seniors would record on Rooney Field.
But as the clock wound down, both teams began to scramble. Staton received a pass and began to race toward goal. With just four seconds remaining, the senior became a hero as she sent one past the keeper and scored the virtual buzzer beater. The goal secured Duquesne’s 2-1 win and sent her to the bottom of the pile of her congratulatory teammates as they picked up momentum heading into the conference tournament with their eyes set on a repeat performance of 2015 and the program’s first ever NCAA tournament win.
“To win another A10 championship with my team? I mean last year winning it was amazing,” said Staton. “The feeling is unreal, so I can only hope we can do it again this year.”
The Red & Blue will begin their quest to repeat as Atlantic 10 Champions when they take on the No. 6 George Washington Colonials in the tournament’s opening round.