Spencer Thomas | Staff Writer
Nov. 11, 2021
At 3:55 p.m. on Sunday, the Duquesne men’s soccer team was staring down the end of its season.
Taking on Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia during the first round of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, the third-seeded Hawks had just scored with 10:18 remaining in regulation to take a 1-0 lead. It seemed inevitable that the sixth-seeded Dukes would soon face the reality that their season would be over.
However, the Dukes had other plans. Working with less than 10 minutes left on the clock, Duquesne found a way to keep its season alive.
Off a corner kick from Ryan Goodhew, Maxi Hopfer put a left-footed shot off the near post, and Tom Tzabari lifted the rebound past SJU goalkeeper Lars Haavie to tie the game with just over five minutes remaining.
Seemingly bound for overtime, the Dukes once again found a way to rewrite the story.
Ryan Landry drew a free kick from nearly the exact same spot that the Dukes had scored from less than three minutes earlier. Goodhew stepped up and took the out-swinging free kick, with seven Dukes anticipating his cross in the box.
Jaime Borjas jumped into the air from the penalty spot and connected on a header directed toward the net’s top left corner.
When he returned to the turf, Duquesne held the lead with just over two minutes to go in regulation.
Despite having their backs against the wall, Head Coach Chase Brooks sensed that his team had the motivation and desire needed to extend the campaign for at least one more game.
“We have a group of upperclassmen who will be leaving us, and nobody wanted it to be their last game,” Brooks said. “We knew we had a very good shot today, as long as we took care of business.”
By 4:09 p.m., the Dukes found themselves winning a game in the conference tournament for the first time since 2002 and advancing to the tournament’s semifinal round for the first time since 2006.
Brooks was not oblivious to the importance of that achievement.
“These guys have worked so hard and sacrificed a lot to get to this point. We pushed really hard in preseason and talked about doing things differently than Duquesne men’s soccer had ever done them before,” Brooks said. “It’s now about capitalizing on that momentum and using it to keep progressing this program forward into future years.”
Despite the fact that both of the Dukes scorers recorded the first goals of their respective Duquesne careers, it was also experience that delivered when the pressure was at its highest point. Hopfer and Goodhew, who were each credited with an assist, respectively rank first and second on the team in shots.
Goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben made five saves on six shots on goal for Duquesne in the victory. Prior to the final five minutes, Duquesne had just three shots on goal in the entire game, but their conversion on the next two shots proved to be the difference in a game where the Hawks had a 19-8 advantage in the shot department.
With a spot in the A-10 conference championship at stake, the Dukes will to travel St. Louis, Mo., for a neutral-site semifinal game against second-seeded Rhode Island on Friday.
It will be the first time the programs have faced one another since Oct. 20, 2018, when the Dukes defeated the Rams by a 3-1 score.
On Sunday, the winner will face the winner of the other semifinal game between top-seeded Saint Louis and fourth-seeded Fordham.