By: Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor
After snagging a 2-0 victory over Robert Morris and a 3-0 win over St. Francis this past weekend, the Duquesne women’s soccer team now holds the title of 2015 Steel City Classic champions. Each member of the team put forth a dominating effort, but it was the squad’s rookie class that made the biggest impact.
Three freshmen, Katie O’Connor, Kristen Kotsopoulos and Abby Losco, scored four of the five Duquesne goals this past weekend. O’Connor scored the game-winning goal in her first ever game as a member of the Duquesne women’s soccer club against RMU after she received a pass from junior forward Maddie Layman that led O’Connor to a short break away. On Sunday against SFU, Kotsopoulos and Losco both netted goals while Kotsopoulos scored twice.
Kotsopoulos, who described her first goal as “amazing,” explained how she was able to find the back of the net.
“We had a corner kick on the one goal I scored and Maggie (Mayo) totally blocked out the goalie. So that kind of opened up the space for me to shoot, and I just put my head down and finished,” Kotsopoulos said.
Thanks to her performance Sunday against the Red Flash, the newcomer was named Atlantic 10 Co-Rookie of the Week. She is the first member of the women’s soccer team to be named an A-10 Rookie of the Week since Mayo received the award in 2013.
Head coach Al Alvine is proud of the work his new players have put in so far this season, but he makes sure to give credit to some of the veteran players like Layman who netted the late insurance goal against RMU.
“It was great having [Losco and Kotsopoulos] score, and we had [O’Connor] score on Friday so we’re getting contributions from the young kids. It was what we needed,” Alvine said. “Our veterans are playing well also. It’s all coming together pretty nicely in the first weekend of the season.”
Losco agrees with Alvine and gave her two takes on what she thinks the team has done well in the opening portion of the season.
“We’re keeping possession all the time,” Losco said. “I think we’re moving the ball well and staying composed as a whole team and not panicking.”
In just its second year, the Steel City Classic featured teams from around the surrounding areas as they competed for bragging rights as Pittsburgh’s top women’s soccer club. Held at the University of Pittsburgh this past year for its inaugural season, the competition relocated down Forbes Avenue to the Bluff for 2015. The format of the tournament was based on a points system, which saw teams earning three points for a win, one point for a tie and none for a loss. The Dukes (six points) finished ahead of Pitt (four points, 1-0-1), SFU (one point, 0-1-1) and RMU (zero points, 0-2-0).
Alvine is a big fan of the tournament so far as it gives players, students, families and potential prospects a chance to experience something unique.
“It’s a great opportunity for local kids to come out and watch the team play,” Alvine said. “For recruiting, it’s great in terms of getting kids on campus to see teams play. We hope it’s something we can keep putting on for years to come.”
This Sunday, the Red & Blue will head to Morgantown, West Virginia, to face the West Virginia Mountaineers in what will be the first of a three game road trip. The Dukes will return to Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.