WSOC loses pair of one-goal games, now 1-3

Isaiah Odom | Staff Photographer | Duquesne’s Karley Steinher (left) and Eva LaVecchia (right) exit the game during the Dukes’ heartbreaking loss to Youngstown State on Thursday.

Sean McKean | Staff Writer

In two closely contested games, the Duquesne women’s soccer team picked up a pair of losses in the last week- first at home to Youngstown State, then on the road vs. West Virginia.

Under the lights of Rooney Field, the Dukes fell to Youngstown State University on Thursday, Aug. 24th, 2-1.

In the opening minutes of the game, a great setup play from Duquesne’s Mackenzie Muir allowed for a goal by Jaimi Araujo at the five-minute mark. After a strong first half which included four more shots on goal, Duquesne Head Coach Al Alvine spoke about how the early weakness from the Penguins fueled their first half.

“It gave them energy,” Alvine said. “They’re a team that feeds off that stuff, and it tilted the field in their favor a little bit.”

However, the atmosphere around the game changed at the 36-minute mark, when the Penguins tied at one. For the rest of the half, the Dukes and Penguins jockeyed for possession, with neither team appearing to have control of the game.

Once the second half got under way, Youngstown began to take control of the ball in their offensive zone, getting three shots on goal in the first 20 minutes of the half. The Dukes tried to keep their form, getting three shots for themselves. From there, the Dukes’ cohesion began to deteriorate.

“We knew we should’ve been up by a couple of goals just based on the opportunities we had right in the box,” Muir said. “Being 1-1 for so long was something we weren’t comfortable with.”

A similar sentiment was shared by Alvine.

“We thought we took control for a while, but when we get away from playing our game, it becomes a struggle for us,” Alvine said. “When we stopped moving and passing in the game, it became a little slow for us.”

The end of the second half can only be described as chaos. With constant shots on the goal and players going off the field with injuries, it was only a matter of time until something gave. With 34 seconds left in the game, YSU forward Chloe Weiland broke into the Duquesne half, outran two defenders, and beat Duquesne goalkeeper Maddy Nuendorfer to give the Penguins a 2-1 victory at the death.

Following the loss, Alvine commented on the undelivered potential he saw on the field.

“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t score three to four goals in the second half. We had plenty of opportunities. Sometimes, when you take risky chances at this level, it comes back to haunt you, and we saw that happen tonight.

“Every game is a new opportunity to learn something.

Sometimes, lessons are learned from games like tonight. This loss hurts.”

When asked about what specific factors led to the loss, Coach Alvine attributed it to multiple things coalescing.

“Being able to keep the ball and trying to make good decisions out of the back,” he said. “We got caught playing too direct in the second half. It’s still very early in the season, so we’re also still trying to find our full-backed fitness.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Coach Alvine still remains optimistic about the Dukes’ chances.

“We know what this team’s capable of. We got a great blend of new players and experience. Just looking forward to another opportunity to get back on the field, so we’re excited for that.”

Muir shared a similar level of optimism.

“I know we have it in us to play like we did on Sunday against American University,” she said, referring to the Dukes’ dominant 5-0 blowout. “It’s just a matter of working for each other.”

On Sunday afternoon, the Dukes dropped a 1-0 contest to West Virginia, conceding less than three minutes after the opening kickoff. Despite holding the Mountaineers scoreless for the rest of the game, they failed to convert an equalizer. Outshot 22-6, the Dukes saw less than one-third of the possession.

The Dukes will be back in action on Thursday, when they travel three miles east to face Pitt in the city game. The Panthers enter the contest ranked 21st in the nation.