Nationally-ranked MSOC wins home contest

Peter Boettger | Staff Photographer | Ask Ekeland (No. 31) and Elmar Jonsson (No. 14) celebrate after Ekeland's second goal on Wednesday.

Spencer Thomas | Sports Editor

Oct. 13, 2022

Ask Ekeland scored a pair of goals as the Duquesne men’s soccer team coasted to a 5-1 victory against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies on Wednesday night at Rooney Field.

Despite being against a fellow Atlantic-10 opponent, the contest was not considered a conference game for the Dukes, but was instead an addition for both the Dukes, (9-1-3) and Bonnies, (3-8-2) to fill their schedule.

Despite being ranked 25th in the nation, the Dukes entered the contest having scored just three goals in their past five games. That number would be eclipsed by the 37th minute.

Ekeland’s brace marked Duquesne’s first two goals of the evening. He opened scoring just over 16 minutes into the game, when he collected a failed clearance from St. Bonaventure, and snuck it in from just outside the penalty box.

His second marker proved to be the game winner. With the game locked at one in the 31st minute, Duquesne put together a stream of pressure that included four consecutive corner kicks.

The intensity culminated with a give-and-go between Ekeland and Maxi Hopfer. Ekeland completed the play by slotting the ball in the top right corner of the net. His team-leading sixth goal of the season gave the Dukes a lead they would not relinquish.

“There’s a professionalism with [Ekeland],” said Duquesne Head Coach Chase Brooks, “He doesn’t know how to take a play off.”

Hopfer would dish out his second assist of the game just 12 seconds later, as he placed a free kick at the feet of Christoffer Vie Angell, who was clear of the defense. With no Bonnie within several feet, the sophomore slid the ball home to give the Dukes a 3-1 lead.

Hopfer attributed his success with distribution to the cohesion he shares with teammates.

“I know those guys, we are a family,” Hopfer said.

“Off the field we are together for hours so at some point the chemistry builds up. The quality is definitely here.”

Tom Tzabari would later score indirectly from a free kick, while Hopfer would score a goal of his own in the second half off of a corner.

By the end of the game, four of Duquesne’s five goals had come immediately after a set piece. Brooks felt that his team had capitalized on an opportunity presented to them as part of their game plan.

“In the scouting report we knew that there was some opportunity there,” he said, “It still comes down to us taking advantage of those moments. I give the guys a lot of credit.”

Their 22 shot attempts set a season high for Duquesne, and their 11 shots on target matched their record on the campaign.

“We try every game really hard to score us goals,” Hopfer said, “Who knows what happened, but today it clicked and luckily we brought it into the net.”

Despite the offensive output, the game was not without excitement for St. Bonaventure.

When the game was still scoreless, an odd-man rush crashed the net, which forced Duquesne goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben to leave his line and make a kick save with his right foot.

Minutes later, a headed Bonaventure corner kick was corralled at the mouth of the goal by Nascimben. Further review showed that the ball was likely past the goal line, but no goal was given, and Duquesne remained in the lead.

The Bonnies tied the game in the 26th minute of the first half, when Nascimben failed to corral a cross, where it fell to the feet of St. Bonaventure’s David Cubillos, who shot and scored on the vacated net.

“I think there was a little complacency in the first 15 minutes,” Brooks said, “Once we kind of got those guys who were eager to get minutes in coming off the bench, the energy kind of changed.”

A later opportunity for the Bonnies to tie the game in the first half ricocheted off the crossbar, sending Bonaventure players to despondently bury their faces in their hands, a common sight for the players in brown and white.

Nascimben would finish saving four of the five shots on target he faced, and has yet to concede more than a single goal in a game this season.

Currently, the Dukes sit one point clear of Saint Louis in the A-10 standings with three conference games remaining. Controlling their own destiny, if they outperform the Billikens in those three games, they would earn the A-10 regular season title as well as home-field advantage throughout the conference tournament.

Duquesne will get back into true A-10 play on Saturday night when they host the Davidson Wildcats. Eyes will then turn to Monday night’s City Game against the Pitt Panthers, who are the first team out of the national rankings.