By Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor
The women’s soccer team’s 4-0 opening round loss to West Virginia can be categorized as one of those “David vs. Goliath” moments, in which the Mountaineers were bigger, faster and more capable of delivering the Dukes a crushing blow.
The Dukes seemed shell shocked against the second-seeded Mountaineers who out ran, out maneuvered and out gunned the Red & Blue in nearly every area of the field that night. Duquesne was only able to advance the ball past the midfield marker a handful of times, and only garnered five total shots, none of which came in the first half.
For head coach Al Alvine, the loss is bittersweet. While the club will be away from the pitch till next fall, they gained a crucial understanding of postseason soccer, which is something most teams never get to take part in.
“It’s a great experience for us and for the kids,” Alvine said. “I mean this is kind of unchartered territory for our program. We’ve got to work on our ability to play quicker and faster. Obviously the higher up you go for the level of play – the conference tournament, the NCAA tournament – the speed of play is critical.”
It can be unsettling to see the life sucked out of a team who just five days earlier won their first-ever Atlantic 10 title after running the gauntlet of Dayton, La Salle and Fordham as the seventh seed. The conference title win seemingly lifted this group to the top of the collegiate soccer mountain before the Mountaineer’s knocked them down a few pegs. But not all hope was lost on the pitch.
Though she was hammered with shots, junior netminder Vanessa Perdomo never faltered, even after WVU scored their fourth and final goal. She recorded eight saves in the first half alone on the way to 10 total. A number of the stops were cross-crease saves, which showed off Perdomo’s ability to close off angles.
Despite her sound performance in net, the 5-foot-4 New Jersey native humbled herself and said if it wasn’t for the second goal she let in, her team could have had a better opportunity to come back. That goal came off a one-timer from WVU forward Hannah Abraham with exactly a minute left in the first half.
“To see that ball go in, that was hard,” Perdomo said. “I got my hand on it, but they’re a great team and they knew exactly where to place it. It was hard.”
Going forward, Perdomo, along with a number of other pieces, will return to for the 2016 squad with postseason experience. Alvine is happy with the level of talent returning to the Duquesne roster as well as the fact that they got this tough lesson out of the way.
“It’s a young team. This is an entirely new experience playing in the postseason,” Alvine said. “But for freshmen like Katie [O’Connor], Abby Losco, Casey Aunkst and [sophomore] Linnea Faccenda, we’re building the program around them. For them to go through this experience, it’s invaluable.”
Alvine also believes that this loss can bring nothing but success for this team going forward. It’s surely going to draw a number of talented prospects from high schools around the country.
“It helps,” Alvine said about making the tournament. “Good players want to go to good programs … having the ability to sell them a team that just won the conference championship who just played in the NCAA tournament is just going to help us.”