Dom Ferro | Staff Writer
Sept. 5, 2019
After starting the season with a 1-1 draw against Bowling Green, the Duquesne men’s soccer team (1-0-1) bounced back with a win against the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies (1-1-0) on Sunday afternoon.
Momentum was on the Grizzlies’ side after their season-opening win on Friday, Aug. 30, when they won 5-1 against Robert Morris on the opening day of Duquesne’s and Robert Morris’ joint tournament. The tournament’s second day of competition occurred on Sunday, Sept. 1 with two games. The day began with Robert Morris suffering their second loss of the season to Bowling Green and finished with the last game of the tournament between the Dukes and the Grizzlies.
Head Coach Chase Brooks said his biggest takeaway from the opening tournament for his team was “the heart that this group has. Their ability to do what it takes to get ‘the’ result.”
Duquesne and Oakland both played a physical first half, with neither team giving an inch. No goals were scored through 45 minutes, and there were only a total of six shots on goal combined between the two teams. Duquesne’s offense was limited to one shot on goal in the first half but the Dukes’ defense stood tall.
Goalkeeper Robbie McKelvey’s five saves, along with the defense protecting the net on Oakland’s seven first-half corner kicks, kept the score at zero.
Coach Brooks was proud of his team’s performance in the first half.
“We knew based off of watching [Oakland] on Friday night that this was going to be a tough game,” Brooks said. “They’re a very good attacking side. We knew that they were going to have potentially more offense than us today.”
The second half came with excitement from Duquesne fans when in the 66th minute, forward Manel Busquets juked two defenders and ripped a shot that narrowly missed and tipped the crossbar.
“Anything that doesn’t hit the back of the net is technically a missed opportunity, but we don’t let that affect us, we keep moving forward,” Brooks said.
Busquets expressed a similar mentality.
“I was a little upset, but I was thinking about… man, I’ve got to score the next one,” he said.
The forward did just that when he was given nearly the same opportunity three minutes later, but this time he capitalized. He managed to fight off a defender leaning on him, pushed off and shot the ball to the right side of the net and gave Duquesne the first lead of the day to make the score 1-0. Midfielder Nate Dragisich was credited with the assist.
Busquets also earned his first goal of the season and the one that the Dukes needed, with less than 20 minutes remaining in the game. “The team was thinking, ‘keep a clean sheet;’ if we could stay with a clean sheet, we’d have more opportunities and we’d win the game,” Busquets said.
The last 20 minutes of the game consisted of Oakland doing everything to attack the net and the Duquesne defense staying locked in.
“It was a little more physical than usual, I’d say. It was a gritty game,” said midfielder Luke Kelly.
Oakland was given a corner kick with 15 seconds remaining in the game. The ball was headed directly in front of the net, but goalkeeper McKelvey emerged from the sea of bodies and caught the ball to give him his eighth save of the game and his first shutout of the season.
“We knew we were going to have to do a heck of a job defensively, and that’s what the guys did. They dug deep, buckled down, and did what they needed to do to get the shutout,” Brooks said.
The men’s soccer team will be back in action against VMI at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, and look to build off their recent momentum.