Marie Jubert | The Duquesne Duke
It was an emotional afternoon at Rooney Field on Sunday as the Duquesne men’s soccer team took on the University of Rhode Island Rams for their final home game of the season. The Dukes needed to win the match in order to clinch a spot in the Atlantic 10 Championship. Unfortunately, the Dukes lost 1-0 to the Rams, who finished the season atop the conference standings with a 7-1 record in the A-10.
A pregame ceremony highlighted the talents and contributions of the seven seniors on the team. Seniors Filip Velasevic, Kadeem Pantophlet, Nick Anderson, Isaiah Noreiga, Nick DiSomma, Karter Sell and Austin Lange are all integral components of the team and will be missed next season.
Coach Chase Brooks believes that this group of seven seniors has been special because of their commitment to excellence over four years.
“Today they threw in everything in order to get the result, but the result was hard to come by. There certainly was no lack of effort,” he said.
Brooks said some of his fondest memories from this season were witnessing first-hand the seniors’ transformation and being able to shake hands with them following their final game on the Bluff.
For seniors Lange and Pantophlet, the camaraderie that they have forged with their teammates will certainly be missed. Lange in particular reminisced about his fondest memories of being a part of the team.
“Off of the field, my favorite memory of the team has been the sense of brotherhood. It’s like being a part of a family since there is always someone to lean on,” Lange said. “On the field, my favorite memory would have to be my hat trick this year.”
From the start of the match to the final whistle, the Dukes played with energy through the full 90 minutes. Duquesne outshot URI 23-10 due to a plethora of corner kicks, strategic passes and a penalty kick, but they simply couldn’t find the back of the net.
At the start of the match, the Dukes created three successive opportunities to score from corner kicks. Sophomore midfielder Dorian Kouame put the ball into play in corner kicks 2nd, 8th and 10th minutes of play. Each attempt from the team’s assist-leader was promising, but the Dukes couldn’t convert. They tried eight corner kicks over 90 minutes to Rhode Island’s six.
In the 32nd minute of play, the Rams took the lead on a goal scored by Rhode Island forward Ryan Oakley and assisted by Carlo Davids. The goal landed in the top right of the net on a shot from 25 yards out.
The Dukes continued to battle in hopes of tying the match. In the 67th minute, the Dukes had the opportunity to tie the game on a penalty kick, but Pantophlet was denied by URI goalkeeper Nils Leifhelm.
For the seniors on the team, it is now time to take what they have learned on the field, and apply this knowledge to their future endeavors. Most importantly, the seniors stressed the value of teamwork.
“It’s important to trust in those around you; just knowing that you can do your part and that others will do their part and that the job will get done. It’s all about hard work, really,” Lange said. “Even if you believe in yourself, you still need people who can help you out.”
The seniors added that for the underclassmen, the key is to remain driven and continue to enjoy the ride.
Pantophlet said those returning to the team next season simply need to “keep working hard.
“The program is definitely moving in the right direction,” he said.
Overall, the Duquesne men’s soccer team has a lot to be proud of this season. The squad should not be defined by their inability to qualify for the A-10 Championship this year. Under Chase Brooks, the team notched its second consecutive winning season (8-7-3). The depth of the roster, ability to collaborate and the stellar home record (7-2-0) indicate that the team has the potential to make a run toward the A-10 tournament in 2015.