Brentaro Yamane | Layout/Multimedia Editor
Oct. 27, 2022
The Duquesne women’s soccer team’s fell Sunday afternoon to George Washington by a 2-1 score. With regular-season games now in the rearview mirror, the team gets to move onto bigger goals as they begin their pursuit of an Atlantic 10 Conference championship.
Duquesne, which finished with a 4-3-3 record in A-10 action, finished as the fifth seed in the conference. The Dukes will face fourth-seeded Davidson in a road contest on Friday night in the tournament’s opening round. The last time Duquesne won the conference was in 2015.
“The loss against George Washington is fueling our motivation [to do well in the A-10 tournament],” junior forward Cami Taylor said. “We are learning from it, like we have with the other losses throughout the season. Most importantly, we are looking to move forward, push ourselves and give the best we have for Friday.”
The Dukes were ranked 10th in the A-10 women’s preseason soccer rankings, so making the tournament as one of the top five seeds is exceeding expectations, even if they were those from outsiders.
“I don’t think we were focused on [the preseason rankings],” freshman defenseman Eva LaVecchia said. “We know we have so much talent, and from the start we knew we were going to be a hard team to compete with.”
Led by 17 freshmen, Duquesne is one of the youngest squads in the nation. Seven of those players have recorded at least a point, showing that everyone is getting involved and are trying to make an impact. The quick success that they are all having is making the team closer, as their desire to become better continues to rise.
“As a freshman, I had no idea what to expect this season,” said midfielder Mackenzie Muir. “Us freshmen had to prepare for anything and everything. With the tournament approaching, this season flew by so fast. It was so exciting to be able to always be with the team and building a family culture in this program.
“The season has been challenging with constantly having to play our highest level of soccer, but I think this season has been a testament of who we are as a team.”
Junior forward Jaimi Araujo ended the regular season as the team’s leading scorer with five goals and six assists. With the offensive attack that she brings, coupled with the younger players on the team, she knows that her experience and leadership helped the team in their success.
“For most of our team, this is their first experience with the A-10 tournament, so we’ve really been trying to stress what this opportunity means,” Araujo said. “We know we can compete for a championship, so we’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on building that confidence as we head into our biggest game of the year.”
Taylor is one of six players on the team to play all 15 games. She is also one of the upperclassmen that was relied upon to provide leadership to the team.
“I think it’s important for us to keep our routine in order for us to stay comfortable and focused during the playoffs,’’ Taylor said. “We are focusing on ourselves, playing the way we know how to play and playing for each other.”
Duquesne has not defeated Davidson since Oct. 8, 2017 (three ties and one loss in the four contests since then). In the lone contest this season, the Dukes and Wildcats played to a 1-1 tie at Rooney Field on Oct. 9. Araujo scored the lone goal for the Dukes in that contest. She said that having already seen Davidson’s style of play helps a lot as Duquesne prepares its game plan for Friday’s contest.
“Davidson played exactly how we expected them to [in the first game],” Araujo said. “They’re a tough team to break down, but I don’t think we put ourselves in too many dangerous positions to challenge their back line. My team knows we can win this game if we apply to the game plan we’ve been working on in training.
“A win is going to take everyone being bought in, wanting more than the person next to them. As long as we have that, I’m not worried.”