Michael O’Grady | Staff Writer
It was an eventful week for Duquesne, as they bested George Washington Saturday night 3-2 at Rooney Field before holding their own in the city game at No. 23 Pitt. But a 2-0 loss on Tuesday night means that the Dukes have won just one out of their last five.
At first, it looked as if Duquesne was headed to their fourth straight loss on Saturday. On a wet and windy night, the Revolutionaries’ Louis Saville scored less than two minutes after the Dukes botched a clearance. GWU kept up the pressure afterward, and it seemed they were well on their way to a second goal before the Dukes made good on an isolated chance. GWU’s Mark Nakamura slid into Jayden Da in the box, prompting a penalty kick for Cam Territo, which he swiftly put away for his second tally of the season.
Duquesne couldn’t garner any momentum off the goal, and GW responded 93 seconds later when Saville put home his second of the first half. Duquesne countered when Ask Ekeland broke on a great run into the box, juked by two defenders and fired in his team-leading seventh goal to tie it up at two.
Duquesne Head Coach Chase Brooks credited the subs that were made after GW’s second goal for the quick turnaround.
“I thought everybody that came off the bench in the first half really started to turn the tide.”
As for the starters, he expressed the importance of a short memory at halftime.
“They know they made the mistakes, they know things didn’t go our way, and you can either live in the past or help them through that moment, educate them and move on.”
Ekeland would score the tiebreaker and eventual game-winner early on in the second half. Launching himself from midfield, he received a Tate Mahoney set-up pass, dribbled left into space and shot the ball in off the right post.
From there, the game was even and increasingly physical in the rain. A bleeding Mahoney had to come off after suffering an errant kick to the head, though he would later return.
“I’m proud of the guys, it was a total team effort,” Brooks said. “It’s a bend, don’t break mentality, and thankfully this group has a strong backbone.”
With nationally-ranked Pitt looming, Brooks was clear about what the plan was for beating the inner-city rivals. “Play our principles, and go win.”
Duquesne ended up putting in a commendable effort Tuesday night at Ambrose Urbanic Field, but they were left with the short end of the stick.
“We knew it was gonna be tough, we knew they were gonna have a good amount of possession, but we were incredibly disciplined. It is what it is, we were pretty good overall defensively, and we can take a lot of positives,” Brooks said.
In the first half, The Panthers had quality chances, but the Duquesne backline held firm. The Dukes generated a few good chances of their own, including a few Da attempts and a narrowly wide Ekeland free kick. The play of the half came eight minutes in when defender Grant McIntosh made a brilliant tackle to stop what would’ve been a lopsided Pitt rush.
The ball began to dangerously whiz around the Duquesne box as time went on, and the Panthers broke through in the 65th minute. Pitt’s Guilherme Feitosa scored in a crowd following a corner kick that bounced off a few bodies.
“That’s a tough one to swallow, we’d done so well but ultimately to give up a goal on a set-piece isn’t quite good enough,” Brooks said. “It was just one moment where we turned off a little bit and lacked discipline, and you can’t do that at this level.”
Neither team threatened much after that, with a strong Pitt defense stopping most Duquesne advances. The Dukes won a corner in the 82nd minute and there was a review for a possible penalty, but it didn’t come. Raphael Cilli scored for Pitt six minutes later, capping off a long Panther rush that came from a broken Duquesne throw-in, and 2-0 was the final score.
Brooks’s outlook was primarily positive, and he thinks there’s hope going forward.
“This is gonna hurt tonight, but we’ll get our minds right going in [on Saturday]. We were right there, and good things can happen if we can put one in.”
Sitting at seventh place in the Atlantic-10 Conference with three games to go, Duquesne ventures into the Bronx on Saturday to play Fordham, where a victory would guarantee the Dukes a spot in the eight-team A-10 tournament.