James Leo | Staff Writer
Sept. 26, 2019
An underdog heading into Sunday’s matchup against rival VCU (6-2-1, 0-1-1), the Duquesne women’s soccer team (3-2-2, 1-0-0) commenced this season’s conference slate with a convincing win.
VCU has always been a viable opponent for Duquesne. In their last meeting, VCU got the better of Duquesne, and went on to finish the year 2nd in the A-10. Duquesne currently leads the all-time head-to-head series 4-3.
This game was truly a tale of two halves for the Dukes. VCU’s defense stifled them in the first half; while Duquesne had many good opportunities, they had just one shot on goal.
Despite their first-half offensive struggles, the Dukes held VCU to only one goal during that half. Out of 10 first half shots, VCU’s lone goal came in the 26th minute from forward Idelys Vazquez.
“We had a game plan going into the game, playing against this team specifically,” coach Al Alvine said. “We did it too infrequently over the course of the first half.”
The second half saw a more efficient and exciting Dukes team. They continued to keep VCU from scoring, allowing a mere three (unsuccessful) shots on goal in the second half. The Dukes offense got back on track as well, attempting six shots in the second half, four of which were on target.
The Red and Blue tied the game in the 73rd minute with a goal from midfielder Deena DeBaldo. With this goal, she now leads the A-10 in goals scored (6) and is tied with Richmond’s Alyssa Walker for points scored (13) on the year.
“I knew I was up there in goals,” DeBaldo said. “I knew I was tied with someone, but I didn’t know who. I’m very excited to be where I am.”
The Dukes took a 2-1 lead with a corner kick goal in the 84th minute by defender Ashley Briscoe and successfully fended off two corner kicks in the final six minutes from VCU to win 2-1.
Coach Alvine was proud of his team’s performance in the second half.
“In the second half, we came out and made a real commitment to the way we wanted to play,” he explained. “I thought we dominated the second half and created a lot of really good chances. I’m thrilled to get our first conference win under our belts against a very good VCU team.”
He also emphasized that while this win was important, he is thinking of the bigger picture.
“Based on what I saw today, if we can show that same level of commitment to each other and commitment to playing our game and that level of organization, the sky is the limit,” he said. “I told them before the game that we can beat anyone on our day, especially on our field. I think the sky is the limit for our team; if we stay healthy and focused, good things will come our way.”
DeBaldo, shared a similar sentiment.
“This was a huge win for us; we’ve always had tough battles with VCU, and getting this win was a great start to conference play,” she said. “I think we can go all the way. I believe in our team; I think we can do it.”
This conference win marks the first time the Dukes have won their opening conference game since 2016. They went on to finish 7-2-1 in conference play that year, and went to the A-10 Championship game.The Dukes will continue their A-10 play with a game at Davidson at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sep. 26. They will head to Philadelphia to take on La Salle at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29 to wrap up their short road-stint. Both of these games can be viewed online via ESPN+.
Any who wish to catch the Dukes in person may do so when they return to the Bluff on Thursday, Oct. 3 to play Richmond.