Natalie Fiorilli | Asst. Sports Editor
Scoring the overtime game-winning goal — that’s how sophomore transfer Olav Hovstad made his debut on Rooney Field, catching the attention of everyone in attendance.
The former University of New Mexico Lobo bounced in a header in the ninth minute of overtime against Saint Francis nearly two weeks ago, which gave the Dukes their first win of the season.
Securing the win for the Red & Blue in his first game on the Bluff was surely an unforgettable moment for Hovstad.
“It was great,” Hovstad said. “It was a tough game, especially in overtime; they pushed us back a bit. It was a great experience, and it’s always fun to win the first game at home, and hopefully we can build on that.”
Being a new member on the team isn’t the most interesting detail about Hovstad, though — the sophomore midfielder is also an international student-athlete hailing from Grimstad, Norway.
Playing soccer since the age of five, Hovstad spent a majority of his life growing up in Norway strengthening his skills in the sport. In the U.S., Hovstad saw an opportunity to play in a system that was more suitable for his playing style.
Ultimately, an injury while competing at the high school-level played a factor in his decision to move to the States and play college soccer.
“I was injured for a few years, and I was thinking maybe a new environment would help me out,” Hovstad said. “So I figured I might give it a shot. It’s different, it’s more physical and we play at a higher tempo here.”
The switch to Duquesne meant a chance to gain minutes and produce more offensively for Hovstad, who was redshirted his first year at New Mexico in 2014.
Despite recording some playing time for the Lobos last year, Hovstad wanted more, explaining that he still wasn’t satisfied with his minutes out West. Head coach Chase Brooks was willing to give him the chance for just that, after being contacted about Hovstad.
“What I saw and what I heard about him from the contacts that I had, is that he is a hard worker, a guy who was looking to prove himself,” Brooks said. “I think he’s going to find himself pushing for a starting role every single week, which is a great thing. I think he’s in a good position to be a guy that we can lean on, especially as conference play comes around.”
In his first season with the Red & Blue, Hovstad aspires to make his name a familiar one on the scoresheet, while also gaining more minutes on the field.
The midfielder is currently tied for first place in goals and shots with two other teammates.
His teammates are happy with his performance so far and with his contribution on the offensive end, according to junior midfielder Fredrik Borenstein.
“He is a hard-working individual with a great attitude and a passion for the game,” Borenstein said. “I am extremely proud to call him a teammate and my friend.”
Up next, Duquesne kicks off its weekend-long invitational, which includes games between the Dukes, Bucknell, Canisius and Wofford.
The first game of the Duquesne Invitational for the Red & Blue will be against Wofford at 8 p.m. on Friday. The Dukes will compete again Sunday with a game against Canisius at 2 p.m.
Concluding the weekend, the Dukes only have four games remaining before the start of the Atlantic 10 Conference schedule. Duquesne will look for more game-winners from Hovstad heading into this weekend, and as they approach conference play, according to Brooks.
“He’s doing the things we thought he was going to do,” Brooks said. “He’s working hard, he’s a competitor, which is what we need. We need guys that are willing to push and battle every single day, and I think that he brings that.”