David Borne | Staff Writer
Often times, it takes freshman athletes a while to really get rolling in their first collegiate season. That’s not the case for Lauren Bell, a freshman striker whose offensive skills have bolstered an already strong attack for Duquesne women’s soccer head coach Al Alvine.
Bell, a Hermitage, Pennsylvania, native, has made an immediate impact in her short time with the Dukes. Through eight games thus far, she has found the back of the net three times and has one assist on the season, as well.
After being held scoreless in the first four matches of the season, Bell notched her first collegiate goal at Rooney Field against Xavier on Sept. 8. Fellow freshman Deena DeBaldo played a through ball to Bell, who was able to sneak by the defensive line and fire a shot past the goalkeeper. She added her first assist later on in the game.
Bell was glad to get her first goal under her belt, but was more excited that her family was in the stands and got to share the moment with her.
“It was really exciting. My family was actually here, so I got to see them after the game. As a freshman coming in, getting playing time was something I was hoping for. Getting a goal was like the icing on top of the cake,” Bell said.
“The girls supporting me and having them be almost as excited as me was definitely a positive experience. They were behind me the whole time,” she added.
Later that weekend, Bell’s game-tying goal in the 57th minute against Seton Hall aided her team in a 1-1 draw against the Pirates. For her impressive efforts for the week of Sept. 4-10, Bell was named the Atlantic 10’s Co-Rookie of the Week, alongside Saint Louis’ Annabelle Copeland.
Though she has only spent a few months on the Bluff, Bell has known Duquesne was the place for her since the first days she visited the university.
“When I walked around [the campus] I felt like this was home. The coaches made me feel so welcome and the team members that I did meet talked about their experience in such a positive way that I was very excited to come here,” Bell said.
Alongside offensive weapons like junior Katie O’Connor and senior Linnea Faccenda, Bell has been able to fit right into a dangerous group of forwards for the Dukes. She has learned from her older teammates, and can already see herself growing as a player.
“I definitely think they have made me a better player,” Bell said. “On and off the field, they’re constantly right behind me, telling me what they think I should do and what they think are good choices for me. They’re definitely pointing me in the right direction. I look up to them and appreciate all of their input.”
The chemistry continued for Duquesne’s offensive attack in its match against Youngstown State on Sunday as Faccenda was able to find Bell, who added her third goal in four games.
The trio of O’Connor, Faccenda and Bell is responsible for nine of Duquesne’s ten goals this season.
Following their strong showing in the first month of the season, Duquesne (4-2-2) now shifts their focus to conference play. With the attacking duties in good hands and a strong defensive line in front of junior goalkeeper Kyra Murphy, who has already recorded 49 saves this season, Duquesne has the tools necessary to make some noise in conference play.
Bell has already noticed an increased intensity in practice, and is looking forward to fighting for an A-10 Championship with her team.
“Practice is definitely getting tougher and more focused,” Bell said. “Conference is obviously the most important part of the season so a lot of the upperclassmen have been taking the time to talk to the underclassmen and explain that this is when it really matters. We’re all just working together to try to make this the best it can be and come out as strong as possible.”
The Dukes begin their Atlantic 10 slate on 7 p.m. Thursday in Philadelphia at La Salle’s McCarthy Stadium. The Explorers (5-3-1) were selected to finish tenth in the A-10’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Duquesne, who was picked to finish fifth out of fourteen total teams by the league’s coaches, beat La Salle 2-1 in double-overtime last season on October 30, 2016, at Rooney Field.