Spencer Thomas | Staff Writer
Sept. 23, 2021
The Duquesne men’s soccer team was able to break even during this past week’s pair of games against George Washington and Michigan State.
The Dukes opened Atlantic 10 Conference action with a 3-1 victory over the Colonials Saturday evening. On Tuesday night, the Dukes fell to the Spartans, 1-0, in a non-conference contest.
Duquesne’s performance in the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s game was less than ideal, leaving Head Coach Chase Brooks little to be satisfied with.
The team opened in a 4-4-2 formation, with forward Maxi Hopfer and midfielder Logan Muck playing up top for the majority of the night. The defenders and midfielders seemed disconnected from their two strikers, and they failed to move the ball out of their own end as a result.
The Colonials threatened offensively for minutes on end. The ice finally broke in the 15th minute, when George Washington midfielder Demi Amigun collected a loose ball and shot it beyond the outstretched gloves of Duquesne goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben and into the back of the net.
After 20 minutes, George Washington had posted four shots and been awarded three corner kicks. In the same time frame, Duquesne had one shot and no corners.
Around that point, the Dukes woke up and immediately began to hit their stride. The back line was able to move the ball up field to the midfielders, who would relay passes to the pair of scoring threats in Muck and Hopfer.
In the 33rd minute, Hopfer went on a 40-yard dash down the left side, beating defenders and closing in before his angle ran out and his shot on goal was saved.
However, the Dukes kept up the pressure and put a shot off the crossbar before Muck collected a rebound and worked it around Colonials goalkeeper Justin Grady to bring the score to a tie.
The second half brought similar success for the Dukes. What looked like Hail Mary passes in the first half became an effective strategy, forcing the Colonials to backpedal as the attacking Dukes collected the ball and charged toward the net.
In the game’s 49th minute, Duquesne worked some nifty passes around the George Washington box before a loose ball found the right foot of midfielder Ryan Goodhew. He launched a powerful shot that nestled into the net’s top right corner and gave the Dukes a 2-1 lead — a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
While they didn’t dominate in time of possession, the Dukes made much better use of their opportunities. Duquesne was able to put seven shots on goal, compared to just three by George Washington.
Forward Zach Mowka added an insurance marker in the 71st minute. The Dukes were able to stave off any final attack from the Colonials and hold on for a two-goal victory.
In Tuesday evening’s road loss at Michigan State, Duquesne was not able to generate much offensively. Despite putting up a tough fight against a Big Ten Conference opponent, the Spartans were ready for battle.
In the 16th minute, Michigan State forward Farai Mutatu approached the six-yard box and headed home a direct kick for what would turn out to be the game’s only goal.
From that point on, the Dukes were able to keep pace offensively with the Spartans. Both teams finished the night with three shots on goal.
When their backs were against the wall, the Dukes kept their offense alive, recording four shots in the final 10 minutes.
However, none of their attacks were creating the same level of danger as they had in the victory over George Washington. The quick-strike transitions struggled to beat a more formidable defense, and their effects were largely mitigated.
In addition to the meeting with Michigan State, Duquesne’s gauntlet of a non-conference schedule also provided challenges against power-conference programs like Pittsburgh and Kentucky.
With the exception of a home non-conference contest against Wright State on Oct. 26, the Dukes’ remaning schedule consists entirely of A-10 opponents.
With one conference victory already secured, Duquesne will return to A-10 competition this coming Saturday when it welcomes La Salle to Rooney Field.
The Dukes have won three of their last four matchups against the Explorers.