MSOC ties Fordham in senior night clash

Peter Boettger | Staff Photographer | Duquesne goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben — seen here during an Oct. 17 game against Pittsburgh — made 10 saves in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Fordham at Rooney Field on senior night.

Jack Morgan | Staff Writer

Oct. 27, 2022

The Duquesne men’s soccer team looked to earn another win and push toward an Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season title, but their momentum was stopped in a 2-2 draw with Fordham on Saturday night at Rooney Field.

The game’s pace picked up early, as Fordham forced the issue and got some shots on net. Fordham captain Daniel Espeleta had a dangerous opportunity in the 13th minute after the Dukes misplayed the ball in their own end, but it was blocked by Duquesne’s Torge Witteborg.

Two minutes later, the Dukes drew first blood. Ask Ekeland scored his eighth goal of the season, converting on a 28-yard free kick. He placed his ball in the top left corner of the net, where Rams goalkeeper Callum James couldn’t swat it away.

Just over two minutes later, Maxi Hopfer set up Jacob Casha, who gathered the cross and slotted it in the net’s bottom left corner to give the Dukes a 2-0 lead. Although the Dukes held much of the momentum in the game’s early stages, the Rams shifted that quickly.

In the 21st minute, things got chippy between Ekeland and Fordham’s Savvas Christoforou, and both were assessed yellow cards.

After a foul on Dukes defender Christof Vie Angell in the 25th minute, Fordham cashed in on the ensuing free kick. Ben Shepherd played it in for Timo Hummrich, who headed it straight past Duquesne goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben.

The physical and aggressive play between both teams was prevalent throughout the first half, and Duquesne maintained its 2-1 advantage heading into halftime.

However, a minute into the second half, the Dukes surrendered their lead. Hummrich set up Daniel D’Ippolito, who shifted the ball from left to right and sent it past Nascimben.

Hopfer was among those on the Dukes’ side that were disappointed with the start to the second half, and he said that it had an impact on the remainder of the game.

“We were effective in front of goal in the first half, so we were up,” Hopfer said. “When you’re up, it’s always easier to play. We kind of, we couldn’t really find our game. And then since the game went on, and it was 2-2, the pressure kind of rose on us, and we got more under pressure.”

After the game, Head Coach Chase Brooks said that the team can learn from the contest.

“You’re at home, it’s senior night, you’re playing a good team,” Brooks said. “But I will take us here versus anybody in the country. We always feel like we can win at home, and tonight was no different. And ultimately it wasn’t meant to be tonight, but again, that’s where we have to learn from it, and we have to move forward.”

Even with one game left to play in the regular season, the A-10 tournament remains an important point of focus. Hopfer expressed how difficult it is to just take things one at a time without looking ahead at the bigger goal.

“It’s always easy to say to take it one at a time, but in the back of our heads, our big goal was to make the playoffs, to win the A-10s,” Hopfer said. “And that’s still our big goal.”

Brooks and his players appreciated the support given from their home fans all season long, and hope that continues into the postseason.

“I mean that’s the beauty of college sports and college athletics in general,” Brooks said. “It’s that you have the fans, have your students, have your peers around you, cheering for you and pushing for you. You need that energy. It’s absolutely vital.

“We have an opportunity to host an A-10 quarterfinal game. If that comes to fruition, we want everybody out there, we want to pack the stands and we want to get after it. And we want to show people who Duquesne is because, for far too long, I think it’s been a bit of an afterthought, and it’s time to change that.”

The Dukes sit in second place in the A-10 standings, trailing Saint Louis by one point. In order for the Dukes to win the regular-season title and clinch home-field advantage for the conference tournament, they will need to have a better result on Saturday against La Salle than Saint Louis does against Saint Joseph’s.