Brentaro Yamane | Layout/Multimedia Editor
Sept. 22, 2022
Tom Tzabari had not recorded a goal or any points for the Duquesne men’s soccer team in the first six games of the 2022 campaign.
Little did Tzabari know that his first goal of the season would be a game-winning goal in the 58th minute of Duquesne’s 2-1 victory over Loyola of Chicago at Rooney Field on Saturday night.
The game was each team’s first of the Atlantic 10 Conference season. For Loyola, it was their first-ever A-10 contest, as the Ramblers joined the conference after departing from the Missouri Valley Conference in July.
Tzabari did not play a minute in the first half of the game, but when he got the call to enter the game in the second half, he took advantage.
“I think whenever you put me in, regardless of the minutes, I’ll give 100% of myself,” Tzabari said. “It doesn’t matter if I start the game or play in the second half, or if I go five minutes before the game ends.
“I really don’t think about trying to impress anybody. I’m thinking about playing my game and playing Duquesne’s game.”
Tzabari was set up for the game-winning goal when teammate Tate Mohney was pressured by Ramblers defender Andrew Mitchell in the corner-kick spot to the left side of Loyola’s net. Mohney then passed it to Tzabari across the middle, and with no opponents closely in front or behind him, Tzabari drilled the ball to the top right corner of the net.
Tzabari’s game-winner helped Duquesne extend its home unbeaten streak to 11 games, a stretch that began on Aug. 29, 2021.
“As soon as I kicked the ball, I knew it was going to go in,” Tzabari said. “I’ve been practicing that shot the whole week. Practice makes perfect, and I’m more than happy to help my team win.”
Minutes before Tzabari scored the game-winning goal, Dukes goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben made a momentum-shifting save in which Loyola’s Billy Hency shot the ball right into Nascimben’s groin. Hency got the rebound, but hit the crossbar right after. Nascimben fell to the ground after that attack by Loyola Chicago, but managed to get up and shake it off.
Nascimben has shown throughout this entire season that he has the capability to make crucial saves, and a big win to start conference play is a source of motivation.
“Man, that was an awesome start [to begin A-10 play]. I think that it’s important to start off on the right foot with any competition, and I feel like today we’ve come out, we’ve put a really good effort in, and we got the result we wanted,” Nascimben said. “And I’m really proud of the boys. I think we deserved that. We really wanted that result, and I think that goes down to our character.
“As long as we can bring this character all the way through to the end of the season, I see really good things for us. We want to be champions. So that’s awesome to get a good start.”
Christoffer Vie Angell started the scoring by tallying his second goal of the season in the game’s third minute. The Ramblers capitalized less than six minutes later, as Andrew Schweinert scored his first goal of the campaign.
In the first half, Loyola outshot Duquesne 11-5, but the Dukes attacked more aggressively in the second half, matching Loyola’s shot total of 10.
“I think, in the first half, we settled in and didn’t quite solve what they were throwing at us, and we just got opened up a little bit too much. So thankfully, we learned from it,” said Duquesne Head Coach Chase Brooks. “We closed up shop in the second half, and then shots were even in the second half.
“So, I think it shows that you just got to kind of adjust. Sometimes you see things that you’re not quite prepared for, but, ultimately, you can fix it, as long as you don’t break.”
After the win, Duquesne improved to 6-0-1 and tied the school record for most games without a loss to open a season, a feat that was also accomplished in 2019 (6-0-1) and 2002 (5-0-2).
In Tuesday’s United Soccer Coaches Top 25 poll, Duquesne was tied for 25th with Louisville in the national rankings. It was the first time the Dukes were ranked nationally since 2005.
“I think rest and recovery, first and foremost [are important for the next game]. We need to make sure we’re healthy going into UMass, and it’s going to be a heck of a battle. They’re a very good team,” Brooks said.
The Dukes will battle the Minutemen in Amherst, Mass., on Saturday. UMass enters the contest with a 5-0-3 record.