MSOC’s unbeaten streak comes to an end

Peter Boettger | Staff Photographer | Duquesne’s Maxi Hopfer — pictured here in a Sept. 17 game — played 146 of a possible 180 minutes in two road contests this past week. Hopfer has started all nine games this season.

Brentaro Yamane | Layout/Multimedia Editor

Sept. 29, 2022

For the first time in 17 years, the Duquesne men’s soccer team played as a ranked team (No. 25 at the time) on Saturday afternoon against UMass, a game that ended in a 0-0 draw.

After moving up a spot to No. 24 in this week’s poll, the Dukes fell 1-0 in a road contest against No. 25 Akron on Wednesday night. The loss was the first of Duquesne’s season.

Duquesne’s draw against UMass helped the Dukes set the school record for most games played without a loss to open the season, which was eight games at the time.

“Breaking the record is a stepping stone to everything that we’ve done so far this season,” said Duquesne defender Jesper Moksnes. “We want to win every game that we play and represent our school well. I think that the focus for us is just to keep going and to take one game at a time.”

Duquesne had a tough time generating shots in Saturday’s contest, as the Minutemen outshot the Dukes 19-7 in the game. UMass’ Alec Hughes recorded a game-high seven shots.

However, Domenic Nascimben made five saves and recorded his fifth shutout of the season in Saturday’s game. His efforts, coupled with a slide tackle from Cameron Territo in the 75th minute, helped Duquesne avoid a loss.

“Dom has been immense for us this season, and I think that is abundantly clear for everyone to see,” said Duquesne forward Jacob Casha. “Being one of the captains, he has really set a standard for the rest of the lads to strive for and try to emulate.

“Having a keeper like Dom in net definitely provides a lot of confidence for the other 10 on the pitch, knowing that we have a safe and trustworthy pair of hands as insurance.”

Prior to Wednesday’s game against Akron, Moksnes said that the key to winning would be to keep the ball out of the net, which they’d been doing “a very good job with.”

“We know that Akron is a very good team, and we have to keep it tight in the back,” Moksnes said. “We know that if we stick to our principles we will make it difficult for them to break us down, and we will put them in difficult situations to shoot from.”

While players are excited about the ranking, winning is still the main focus.

“It’s exciting knowing we are a ranked team, but the job doesn’t stop there,” Territo said. “Playing UMass was just like playing any other opponent, we had to stick to our principles. We came out with a good result, but not the result we wanted away from home.”

In Wednesday night’s loss to Akron, the lone goal from the Zips came in the game’s 53rd minute, when Dyson Clapier netted his fourth goal of the season. The Dukes struggled to mount anything offensively, getting outshot 15-6 (8-1 in the second half). None of the Dukes’ six shots were on goal.

While Nascimben allowed just one goal and made four saves, Duquesne was unable to muster anything at the opposite end.

With the bulk of Atlantic 10 Conference action in front of them, the Dukes will look to build from their successful non-conference run, as well as their two wins in A-10 games.

“The importance of not taking games off, especially in conference play, is crucial based on what we want to accomplish,” said Dukes midfielder/forward Nate Draigisich. “The best teams cannot afford to take a game lightly because that’s when slip-ups happen. As a team, we just have to take a one-game-at-a-time mentality and play every minute of every game at the level we know we can play at.”

The Dukes have also found a stable force in Head Coach Chase Books, who guided the team to the A-10 title game a season ago. That same level of achievement feels palpable among the team.

“Chase is great to have as a coach because he’s aware of the level that we can grow to and will do his best to keep everyone on the path of achieving our potential,” Draigisich said. “I’m very excited to chase the dream of a championship after coming so close last season, and I know my teammates would agree.”

The Dukes will return to A-10 action on Saturday afternoon when they take on George Washington in a road contest. Duquesne will return home to take on Saint Joseph’s at Rooney Field on Wednesday.