By David Borne | Staff Writer
The final line of defense for the Duquesne men’s soccer team has been completely impenetrable lately, as goaltender Evan Kozlowski set the school record for most consecutive shutouts.
Kozlowski’s streak started Sept. 11 in a 1-0 victory over Canisius, and he recorded his sixth consecutive shutout in a draw against St. Bonaventure on Oct. 5 to set the school record. He added another shutout in the following game as the Dukes defeated George Washington 1-0 and extended his shutout streak to seven.
Until Wednesday’s game at Fordham, it had been over a month since the last time that an opponent snuck one past the redshirt senior — that last score was recorded on Sept. 9 when the Dukes took on Wofford in leg one of the Duquesne Invitational.
Kozlowski’s success has earned him conference recognition, as he was named Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance from Oct. 3-9. Freshman Zach Hall was selected Co-Rookie of the Week, and it was the first time since 2003 that two Dukes received conference honors in the same week.
Kozlowski was unaware that he was approaching the record books until his parents let him know about the opportunity.
“My parents were the ones that told me about the possibility of breaking [the record] a couple days before the St. Bonaventure game,” said Kozlowski. “At that time, the only thing I was focused on was getting a result from our game. The record breaking was just an added bonus.”
Kozlowski prepared as much mentally as he did physically for his final season with the Dukes.
“I just worked on getting my mind ready for the start of the season. All summer long, all I could think about was helping our team make a statement this season and grow our program into a contender.”
The Dukes are not only coming onto the scene as a contender in the A-10 Conference but are also receiving national and regional recognition. Earlier in the week, the Red & Blue checked in at No. 42 in the NCAA RPI and secured the No. 7 spot NSCAA Regional Poll.
The goalkeeper went on to compliment the efforts of the defenders in front of him but insisted that the team as a whole must keep up the high level of play as the season goes on.
“Well, you don’t get to seven consecutive shutouts by yourself. It’s been a consistent team effort throughout the entire season, shutout or not. It’s something that we should all be proud of, but not satisfied with. We have to continue to demand these results each game.”
The Dukes currently sit at 6-3-3 on the season, with a 1-1-1 record in conference play and the remainder of Duquesne’s games coming against other Atlantic 1o teams. Kozlowski and the Dukes are ready for the challenges that come along with facing teams in their conference.
“Honestly, I don’t think any of us have felt much pressure at all,” said Kozlowski. “We’ve always known we could get to the level that we are at right now; we just had to figure out what it took to get here. Now it’s just about continuing to get better as the conference season goes along.”
Kozlowski mentioned how crucial fan support is to the team’s run for an Atlantic 10 championship.
“It’s always nice to get good crowds at Rooney Field as well. Fans never realize how much of an impact they actually have on our game,” Kozlowski said. “When we get a ton of people at the games, it gives us that little extra motivation to get the result, not only for the team, but for those fans.”
The Dukes will play back-to-back home contests on Oct. 15 and Oct. 19 at Rooney Field against VCU and George Mason respectively. They will continue to rely on Kozlowski and the defense until their scoring picks up.