Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke
Capitalizing on opportunities is paramount in any walk of life. It is especially important on the soccer pitch and in front of the net.
Capitalizing on opportunities to score goals has been something the women’s soccer team has struggled with thus far in the season. The Red & Blue tied 0-0 for the second straight game and the third time this season, the latest against Niagara on Friday night at Rooney Field.
Head coach Al Alvine reiterated what he said last week about finishing those quality opportunities when his team once again drew against the University of Buffalo.
“We need to finish and we need to score goals,” Alvine said. “We had good chances, and I don’t know what it is, but we’ve gone two games now without a goal and if you look at the stat sheet in the second half, we outshot them 10-2. We have players that are talented, and we have players that have skill, but now it’s just really about someone taking responsibility of scoring goals.”
The Dukes did, however, play much better than they did against the Bulls last week. Over the course of both halves, the Dukes outshot the Purple Eagles 17-9. Sophomore forward Maggie Mayo led her team with 3 shots. Compare that to last Friday when the women recorded 13 shots to UB’s 14. It was truly a one-sided game this time around, despite the end result.
Midfielders Maddie Layman, Caroline Lacy and the rest of their squad are aware of the problem and believe practice is the right tool to get their team over the hump.
“We’ve been practicing a lot on attacking,” Layman said. “We just need to find someone who can put the ball in the back of the net.”
“I think we’re all still getting used to playing with each other,” Lacy said. “The more we practice, the more we’ll come together. We have a lot of strong players on our team and a fast offense so it’s just a matter of time.”
The toughest part of the Purple Eagles’ game was their physicality and unrelenting defense that kept the Dukes from finding the back of the net.
Alvine admitted Niagara troubled them on the pitch, especially in the defensive department.
“I thought they were very physical,” Alvine said. “They were very direct and dangerous on set pieces as they demonstrated. They have a lot of big kids and we felt that if we could not give away free kicks in our defensive half, and leave us open for a counter attack, they wouldn’t trouble us. To be honest, though, they really did.”
Layman stressed that the hardest part of the game was and will always be scoring.
“We had a hard time getting shots on goal,” Layman said. “We definitely dominated the game, but that can’t be an excuse. We’ve got to finish.”
The most positive takeaway from the matchup has to be the Dukes’ ability to keep the ball out of their own net.
Senior netminder Devon Tabata has stopped every shot she has faced this season and earned her third-straight shutout Friday night. It’s been 329 minutes since the Dukes have given up a goal in their season opener against Robert Morris when Vanessa Perdomo was in net. Thanks to Tabata’s goalkeeping, it’s the longest the Dukes have held their opponents scoreless since 2007.
The Dukes will face Youngstown State this Friday before heading out on a five-game road trip that includes a stop in Washington D.C. and two stops in Southern California.
Alvine hasn’t even thought about the trek yet. Their game next weekend against the Penguins will be a mirror image of Friday night’s meeting against the Purple Eagles, he says.
“We’re thinking about Youngstown State on Friday,” Alvine said. “It’ll be similar to this one. They will be physical and they will be direct, as I have said before. We now just have to figure out a way to score some goals.”
The game against the Penguins is set to kick off at 7 p.m. at Rooney Field.