By David Borne | Staff Writer
Freshman Jallah Acqui is already seeing success in his first season with the Dukes, and his efforts are not going unnoticed. He was named the Atlantic 10 Co-Rookie of the Week alongside George Mason forward Tunde Akinlosotu.
Acqui was recognized for his play from Sept. 19-25 highlighted by his game winning goal in the 93rd minute of a 1-0 victory over Cleveland State. The freshman forward recovered a loose ball near the top of the box and ripped a shot past the Cleveland State goalkeeper, Aleksandar Drobac. Acqui attributed his first collegiate goal to his faith.
“I actually prayed for the game winner,” Acqui said. “I just told God to help us get a goal so the game would be over and he answered my prayers by me using my ability and being in the right place at the right time. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt and all the credit goes to the man above.”
Acqui was the team captain at Upper Darby High School, where he played four years of varsity soccer. He also played club soccer for the Penn Fusion Boys ‘98 team, alongside many other Division I prospects. Additionally, he attended the Sports Challenge Leadership Academy in Delaware (now named Strive), which is a place college coaches go to scout high school prospects. On top of that, he played for the Rose Tree Gunners for three seasons and scored 21 goals in his time with the club.
While he has definitely noticed a step up in the quality of play from high school and club soccer to college, Acqui is confident in his ability to handle it.
“You are playing with better players, you have to think fast, adapt fast, and always work in practice on your ability,” Acqui said. “I use this mentality and the rest is all mental, staying composed and handling the pressure.”
Acqui and the Dukes are off to a hot start this season with a 5-2-3 record and they have yet to lose a game at Rooney Field. Acqui, who is currently tied for second on the team in points at three, had nothing but positive things to say about the team’s early season play.
“The tactics that the coaches illustrate, every time we follow the directions and listen to them, we have a successful game” Acqui said. “We just have to score. The team spirit is very high, we are a family that has great chemistry.”
Acqui is one of several newcomers making an impact on the field for Duquesne. Acqui’s fellow freshman forward, Ryan Landry, is tied with a team-high two assists. Zach Hall, another freshman, like Acqui has 3 points on the season. Additionally, Aleks Christensson has manned the center back position for the Dukes and Owen Rossi has seen time up top.
A pair of transfers have also made a positive impact in their short time at Duquesne. Austin Stout is playing his first season with Duquesne after transferring in from West Virginia. He scored the game winner in a match against Canisius earlier this season, with help from an Acqui assist. Olav Hovstad, who transferred from New Mexico, has also scored a goal for the Dukes this season in overtime against Saint Francis.
It is evident that head coach Chase Brooks had a very successful year recruiting and it is clearly paying off for Duquesne as it gets into Atlantic 10 competition.
After battling through their nine out-of-conference games, Acqui and the Dukes have begun their conference slate with their final eight games against Atlantic 10 foes. The Dukes fought to a 0-0 draw with the St. Bonaventure Bonnies on Wednesday.
Last season, Duquesne had a 4-3-1 record against other Atlantic 10 teams and were eliminated by Dayton in the conference quarterfinal. The Dukes will continue to rely on their younger players and hope their success can carry over to in conference play in the chase for an Atlantic 10 championship.