David Borne | Staff Writer
‘Never give up.’
It’s a simple three-word phrase that Katie O’Connor has heard for years that perfectly encapsulates her style of play. During game action, the junior refuses to give up on a play, her efforts consistently leading to scoring chances for herself and for fellow teammates. After netting a goal in the second half of Sunday’s 2-0 win over Davidson, O’Connor set the program’s record for the most goals in Duquesne women’s soccer history.
“Growing up I was always told to never give up. My parents always encouraged me to keep moving forward even when things were hard and not going my way, and that is one thing that I still think about today,” O’Connor remarked.
O’Connor, who has 22 goals over the course of her career, mentioned that the record is something that has been on her mind for a while. However, she was more concerned about winning games and championships than setting individual records.
“After freshman year, I was told it was possible to reach the top of the record list,” O’Connor said. “It wasn’t a main focus, but it was definitely a goal I was trying to reach.
“It means a lot to me to achieve something like this. But, I do not get here without my teammates helping me on-and-off the field everyday,” she added.
One of those teammates that has helped O’Connor along the way is senior forward Linnea Faccenda. Faccenda has recorded five goals and four assists on the season, and the two are largely responsible for recent successes that their team has had.
After losing their A-10 opener 3-0 versus La Salle on Sept. 21 in Philadelphia, the Dukes have rattled off five-straight conference wins and stand with an overall record of 9-3-2 and 5-1-0 in conference. O’Connor and Faccenda are the team’s top two scorers and have been responsible for a combined five goals and two assists during the team’s current win streak.
“Working with a strong attacking player like Linnea is helpful,” O’Connor said of her teammate. “We try to work together, along with the other attacking players, to achieve the main goal of winning the game. It doesn’t matter who scores the goal, it matters that we score and win games.”
Even though O’Connor and her team are rolling right now, they understand that there is still work to be done. Duquesne has four regular-season matches left on its schedule before the Atlantic 10 Championship tournament begins.
Moving forward, O’Connor and her team only have one thing on their mind: Bringing an Atlantic 10 title back to the Bluff. During her freshman season, O’Connor led Duquesne’s 2015 championship team in scoring, netting 10 goals.
“Our team goals have been consistent. We all want to keep getting better, keep winning games and win a championship,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor isn’t the only member of her squad that has left their mark on the program’s record books this season.
With its 3-2 win over George Mason on Oct. 5, the team’s senior class, including Linnea Faccenda, Veronique Dagenais, Malea Fabean, Amber Fichter, Emilie Larsen, Delaney Reiff and Jorden Thornton, became the winningest recruiting class that Duquesne has ever had.
With four regular-season games left, all against middling conference squads, two other Dukes are on a mission to continue to set records as well in O’Connor and Faccenda.
Head coach Al Alvine needs just two wins to become the program’s all-time win leader, and goaltender Kyra Murphy needs three wins to become Duquesne’s all-time winningest netminder.
Additionally, freshman forward Lauren Bell continues to impress during her rookie season. Bell has recorded four goals and two assists in the Dukes’ 14 matches this season, and was named the A-10 Co-Rookie of the Week for the second time on Oct. 9, following her go-ahead goal off of the bench in the 76th minute of an Oct. 5 3-2 win against George Mason.
The Dukes’ next test is Thursday, Oct. 12, on the road against defending A-10 champion Dayton at 7 p.m. The Flyers enter the matchup with a record of 7-6-2, and currently sit seventh in the conference at 2-2-2. As for Duquesne (9-3-2, 5-1-0), their recent dominance has them in second place in the league, trailing only La Salle (11-3-1, 6-0-0).
Judging by the way O’Connor and her team are playing as of late, they are more than capable of making another run at an A-10 championship title.
These next couple of weeks will prove just how ready they are to return to Atlantic 10 glory.
Duquesne’s next home contest is Oct. 15 versus UMass at 1 p.m., and the A-10 tournament begins for the Dukes at Rooney Field on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. Their opponent has yet to be determined.