Andrew White | Staff Writer
After starting its season off with consecutive tough losses to Arkansas and No. 4 Penn State, the Duquesne women’s soccer team was happy to be home on Friday, Aug. 24, when it returned home to face Jacksonville. The Dukes made their homecoming to Arthur J. Rooney Athletic Field worthwhile, topping the Dolphins, 3-0, to move to 1-2 on the young season.
Jacksonville’s (0-3) first trip as a program to the state of Pennsylvania did not go as it presumably planned, with the Dukes controlling the game right from the opening kick. The first quality scoring chance for the Dukes occurred just 42 seconds into the game, when a Deena DeBaldo header sailed just right of the net, registering the first of Duquesne’s 24 shot attempts of the game.
As the game remained scoreless throughout a Duquesne-dominated first half, a turning point came in the 21st minute, when Dolphins goalkeeper and Preseason Atlantic Sun First-Team Selection, Brittany Hundley, was given a red card for taking down Lauren Bell in the box. The penalty forced a cold backup goalkeeper in Kristian Shores into the game to face a Casey Aunkst penalty kick, but she delivered, stoning Aunkst’s shot that was pegged for the goal’s lower left corner to the turf.
Although Duquesne largely controlled play throughout the half, including outshooting the Dolphins 13-2 overall and 7-1 on net, the teams remained tied at zero heading into the half.
The one-player disadvantage proved to be too much to overcome for Jacksonville, though, as they sputtered in the second half and broke down defensively, allowing the Dukes to bury three shots to secure the win.
The first came off the foot of Lauren Bell, as the sophomore was able to get on the scoresheet for her first time this season after an impressive freshman campaign last year. The goal was set up by senior Abby Losco, who created a turnover and was able to get the ball to Bell, who chipped it past the keeper and into the open net from seven yards away in the 46th minute.
After almost scoring in the game’s first minute, DeBaldo did find the net in the 49th minute, when a corner kick by Losco bounced around at the top of the box and finally trickled its way to DeBaldo, who put a shot on goal from 22 yards out. After deflecting off a player in the scrum in front of her, DeBaldo’s shot took an odd bounce on the turf and fooled Dolphins keeper Shores, as the ball bounced over her head and into the open net.
Bell added an assist on the goal, as well, giving her two points on the night.
The third goal for the Dukes not only wrapped up the scoring, but was also a milestone goal for freshman Hannah Nguyen, who was able to net her first collegiate goal. The goal was assisted by sophomore Tori Kopchak.
The Dukes did have one more chance to score as they were awarded another penalty late in the match, but did not convert, as Shores guessed the right way again and was able to keep Jacksonville’s deficit to just three.
“It was important for us to come home and show the type of soccer we can play, and I think we saw that tonight. We dominated the game from start to finish,” said Head Coach Al Alvine. “Even before they had a player sent off, I think we were forcing the game on them.”
The win gave Duquesne goalkeeper Kyra Murphy her 21st shutout performance, tying Kelly O’Neill (‘98) for the most in program history.
One notable absence for the Dukes was senior Katie O’Connor, the program leader in goals, who did not appear in the game. When asked of her status after the match, Alvine said it was just a day-to-day thing and more of a precaution to keep her out of the game so that she can be fully healthy for the time conference play comes around in late September.
“It was a good team effort today,” noted Alvine, “but the freshmen we asked to step up today all contributed today, and that was a big key for us out there.”
The Dukes were scheduled to play Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday, Aug. 26, but the game was cancelled due to continuous lightning.
Duquesne will host Binghamton at Rooney Field on Sunday, Sept. 2 at 12 p.m. as they look to climb to 2-2 on the season.
Following the Dukes’ game versus Binghamton, Duquesne will face cross-town rival Pitt on Thursday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Petersen Events Complex.
Jacksonville fell to Pitt 2-1 on Aug. 26.