Michael O’Grady | Staff Writer
Duquesne men’s soccer has drifted off course in October, getting kept off the scoresheet twice over the last week and seeing their losing streak hit three games.
It wasn’t ugly, it wasn’t even bad – but it wasn’t perfect, either, as the Dukes dropped the match against George Mason Saturday night, 1-0.
“If you look at it on the field, it was one of our better performances of the year,” Duquesne coach Chase Brooks said. “But if your mindset is even slightly off, nights like tonight can happen.”
Returning to Rooney Field for the first time in over two weeks, Duquesne’s goal was to keep its Atlantic 10 record above .500 following an Oct. 4 loss at Davidson.
Instead, George Mason emerged with the victory, dropping Duquesne’s record to 2-2-1 in league play.
The Dukes led the shots battle, 17-9, but quality offense was hard to find for both teams for much of the night. GMU goalie Jaume Salvado made four saves to Duquesne’s Zoltan Nagy’s five. About 11 minutes passed before Duquesne’s Ask Ekeland found space for the game’s first scoring chance, but the attempt sailed left.
Duquesne’s Jacob Casha and Evan Anderson had two golden chances within three minutes of one another, but Casha’s attempt was blocked and Salvado turned away Anderson’s howitzer. The Patriots first threatened 27 minutes in, when Asparuh Slavov targeted the bottom right corner.
George Mason’s Kelly Janssen found the back of the net 10 minutes into the second half. Nagy made an initial save following a Patriot cross into the box, but Janssen jumped on the rebound for the game’s only goal.
“If you are not completely focused, every team in the A-10 is good enough,” Brooks said. “You have to show up and play every single play, every single second. You’re not allowed to take a second off, and I think that’s what that was – it was just a momentary lapse.”
Minutes later, Salvado made his biggest save of the night when Duquesne’s Sam Bennett wired a shot for the bottom-left corner.
Save for a Patriot chance with five minutes remaining, the ball spent most of the second half in the Patriots’ zone. Duquesne increased its urgency in the final moments, earning two successive 89th-minute corner kicks.
With seven seconds left, the ball found Duquesne’s Ashton Jell, whose powerful strike from inside the box sailed over the crossbar, ending the Dukes’ hopes for a win.
“It was a 99% performance, we were just missing that 1%,” Brooks said postgame. “We have an A-to-B philosophy, with B being the championship, but tonight was a slight veer off toward C. We’ve gotta correct that and go back toward B.”
Wednesday was nowhere near the correction Brooks wanted. The Dukes dropped a 2-0 game to St. Bonaventure in Olean, N.Y.
Despite being level with nine shots on goal each, the Bonnies were able to convert twice thanks to Junior forward Umechi Akuazaoku. Both came from in close and with a fair share of finesse. First was an arching shot that waved past Nagy’s outstretched right hand.
With nine minutes left in the game, Akuazaoku dribbled past the Duquesne defense, as well as Nagy, before slotting an insurance goal into the unguarded net.
The Dukes will look to end their skid against a two-win George Washington team at Rooney Field on Saturday night.