David Borne | Staff Writer
Although it ended in rather heartbreaking fashion, the Duquesne women’s soccer program wrapped up a fantastic 2017 campaign in Richmond last weekend.
Soccer can be a game of bounces. After a redirected shot from Linnea Faccenda sent Duquesne to the semifinal round of the Atlantic 10 Championship Tournament against La Salle, the Dukes fell victim to an unlucky bounce in their subsequent match against the Explorers.
Trailing 1-0 with just above a minute left on the clock, the Explorers fired a shot toward the cage. The shot knocked off of La Salle forward Katherine Hennessey, who was laying on the field following a take down attempt, directing the ball past Duquesne goaltender Kyra Murphy and into the back of the net.
The game’s 1-1 tie prevailed into overtime, where La Salle forward Madison Bower notched the golden goal in the 97th minute, ending Duquesne’s season abruptly.
It was a matter of seconds. Duquesne was just 67 of them away from beating a La Salle team that went unbeaten in-conference during the regular-season, and went on to win the Atlantic 10 Championship on Nov. 5 versus VCU. The same team that beat Duquesne 3-0 earlier in the season.
Obviously, it was not the way Duquesne wanted to wrap up the season and send off a group of seniors that has done so much for the program. However, the result should not be enough to overshadow the successful season the team managed to put together.
Finishing with a record of 11-6-3, head coach Al Alvine and the Dukes consistently put a good product on the field. Duquesne recorded a six-game win streak in conference play that began on Sept. 24 with a 2-1 win over previously unbeaten Saint Louis. The streak lasted until Oct. 15, when UMass finally found a way to knock the Dukes off, beating them 2-0 at Rooney Field.
A number of Dukes were recognized for their accomplishments this season, seeing their names added to several All-Conference teams.
Junior Katie O’Connor and senior Linnea Faccenda spearheaded Duquesne’s powerful attack, both receiving First-Team All-Conference honors. O’Connor led the Dukes in points (18) this season, and finished with a team-high eight goals. Faccenda finished right behind her with 17 points.
The senior scored five goals and had seven assists in her final season on the Bluff.
For her play this season, Linnea Faccenda was named Atlantic 10 Midfielder of the Year. It was the first time in program history a Duquesne player received the award.
Freshman Lauren Bell emerged as a scoring threat, as well, recording four goals and two assists in her first year playing collegiately. Bell received Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team honors for her efforts.
Junior Casey Aunkst joined O’Connor and Faccenda on the First-Team All-Conference squad. Aunkst was the staple of Duquesne’s back line this season, and she was responsible for almost all of her team’s penalty and free kick opportunities. Aunkst recorded two goals this season, both coming off PK chances.
Additionally, Aunkst’s defensive partner, Veronique Dagenais, was named to the All-Academic team. Dagenais, a senior, started in all 20 of Duquesne’s games this season and managed to record a 3.9 GPA.
Goalkeeper Kyra Murphy never left the net this year for Alvine, finishing the season with 102 saves and a stellar goals against average of 0.90. Combined with a solid defensive unit including Aunkst, Dagenais and seniors Delaney Reiff and Emile Larsen, Duquesne held opponents to just 19 goals all season long. Murphy now sits as the program leader in career wins with 30.
The senior class, the winningest class in program history, will be greatly missed next season. Even though their ultimate goal of winning another Atlantic 10 Championship wasn’t realized, their play over the last four seasons has built up the Duquesne women’s soccer program, laying the groundwork for Alvine to continue to lead this program as one of the conference’s best.
Although Duquesne stands to lose a plethora of talent, the future is bright for Alvine’s program here with key contributors O’Connor, Aunkst, Bell and Murphy all set to return next season. Additionally, the Dukes will bring back sophomores Ciara Guglielmo and Abby Losco, as well as freshman Deena DeBaldo, who all saw significant time this season.
The biggest question will be how Alvine and his staff fills the void left on the back line following the departures of seniors Dagenais, Reiff and Larsen. Freshman defender Missy Moore will likely step into one of the starting roles, as she started eight games this season in place of injured teammates.
It was a fun season to watch, a fun team to follow, and it has been a joy to be in attendance for every game on the Bluff this season.
Seniors, congratulations on a great run here at Duquesne, and for accomplishing just about all that is possible in a collegiate soccer career.
This team will come back strong next season, and I’m already looking forward to what the future holds for the women’s soccer program.