Brentaro Yamane | Staff Writer
Oct. 28, 2021
The Duquesne women’s soccer team wrapped up its season with two losses in Atlantic 10 Conference action against George Washington (Thursday) and St. Bonaventure (Sunday).
The Dukes lost five consecutive games to end the season, finishing with an overall record of 4-10-2.
A shortcoming for Duquesne was the inability to win on the road. The team was 0-7-1 in games not played at Rooney Field.
Another setback was struggling to hold leads. In A-10 games against Massachusetts, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure, the Dukes held a 1-0 lead. However, each of those leads turned into 2-1 losses — losses that contributed to Duquesne missing the conference tournament.
For the 12 players who are in their final year and were honored prior to Thursday’s game against George Washington, this is the end of the road when it comes to playing soccer.
Despite the struggles that the team endured this year, final-year athletes like goalkeeper Megan Virgin were optimistic when reflecting on the season.
“I think the most memorable moment this year was beating Saint Louis [who had won 29 consecutive A-10 games] at home,” Virgin said. “Breaking their unbeaten streak is a memory that I will hold for the rest of my career.”
Brooke Schutter also watched her Duquesne career come to an end. She couldn’t help but look back on the memories made along the way.
“Playing my last game on Rooney Field [on senior night] was a very nostalgic feeling”, Schutter said. “Walking next to the girls that I’ve played with and spent most of my four years at Duquesne with was such a bittersweet moment. It always felt like our last game on our home field was so far away.”
With her career behind her, Schutter said she learned a lot about herself. One of those things was learning how much she enjoyed being on a team and working with others.
“I made all of my closest friends at Duquesne by playing soccer,” Schutter said. “The fact that we got to play together was just a bonus. We helped each other in so many ways over four years.”
Players that will be returning have already turned their attention toward 2022.
Jaimi Araujo, who started 11 games this season, is noticing what she improved on during the season and is already looking at what she can do better during the offseason.
“I thought I did well creating chances for my team to get in dangerous positions around the goal. And, even though it was a tough season for our team, I did my best to keep everyone motivated and driven to be better,” Araujo said. “One of the biggest things I would like to improve on would be staying healthy [a knee injury forced her to miss four games]. I also want to improve on different one-on-one moves to the goal to hopefully score more goals next year.”
As a freshman, MacKenzie Leeder found her way into the starting lineup 15 times. As she experienced the transition from soccer at the high-school level to soccer at the college level, she appreciated what her coaches and teammates did to make that transition seamless.
Leeder is also looking to grow as her role on the team grows heading into next season
“I’d like to improve on getting faster, stronger and even getting my game IQ up, like just knowing when to challenge someone one-on-one,” Leeder said. “Even knowing where the best pass for me is or pressuring someone is something to improve upon.”
As players continue to figure out what they can do better, both individually and collectively, the team is focused on finding a way to get back to the conference tournament after failing to qualify in each of the last two seasons. It’s giving Araujo and her teammates extra motivation.
“Our team is full of girls who want to be the best and are willing to put in the work to get there,” Araujo said. “We hit a rough path this year, but I have a lot of faith in my teammates and our ability to be the best in the conference.”
Araujo made one thing abundantly clear as she and her teammates look to reestablish success during the 2022 campaign.
“We’re hungry for a ring,” Araujo said. “Don’t count us out.”