Sean McKean | Staff Writer
With a spot in the Atlantic-10 Conference tournament on the line, the Duquesne women’s soccer team defeated the Richmond Spiders with a score of 3-0. The victory propels them to a quarterfinal matchup against UMass on Friday night.
As the Richmond game began, neither team decisively took control of the ball. Other than a wide shot across the field from Mackenzie Muir and a close penalty shot from Richmond’s Molly Wierman, the first 10 minutes were characterized by constant changes in possession.
However, miscommunication in Richmond’s defense led to Duquesne gaining clear possession of the ball. The Dukes took advantage of it as much as they could, with shots from Jayden Sharpless and Libby Majka coming two seconds apart. Both shots missed the net.
Following these shots, though, it was back to how it started, with possession constantly changing. With no scores coming within the first 25 minutes of the game, it was clear this would be a defensive-minded battle.
After a batch of substitutions for both teams at the 26-minute mark, the match became a much different story. The Dukes began to take possession more decisively, which led to a header from forward Maya Matesa, a high shot from Sharpless and a blocked shot by Muir, but — as has been the story — their shots failed to result in goals.
As the first half came to a close, the Dukes put up a few more shots, with a very close one from Lindsay Krafchick barely missing the net. Ultimately though, the first half would end with a score of 0-0.
Upon the beginning of the second half, the Richmond Spiders came out of the locker room explosively, making a charge toward the goal. But a shot did not end up materializing out of the tussle in the box.
Once the Dukes warmed back up, it went back to more of the same: a defensive battle combined with constant jockeying of possession. Though two more shots were put up by Muir, her attempts swung a bit too high and wide respectively.
The Dukes did not have to wait much longer, however, as a corner kick from Muir turned into a goal from Jayden Sharpless at the 55-minute mark, bringing them up by one.
When asked about the goal that gave the Dukes their first score, Sharpless credited it to a quite simple corner kick strategy.
“We always practice corners, but it’s not a specific thing we work on,” she said.
“We just hope we can get it to the back of the net, considering the tall girls we have. We always use that to our advantage.”
Following the goal, the Spiders started to fight back, gaining more control of the ball on offense. Though they got a few opportunities by virtue of corner and penalty kicks, Richmond couldn’t find their way toward the net.
However, Duquesne managed to gain possession back, and once they did, another corner kick from Muir led to a header from Anna Campanella at the 63-minute mark, making the score 2-0.
After their insurance goal, the Dukes kept the momentum going, achieving yet another goal from Anna Bundy in the 71st minute, putting the Dukes up by three.
Even after getting another goal, Duquesne kept pressure on the Spiders, maintaining dominant possession. Following her goal, Bundy tried another shot from the box, but it did not result in another goal.
As the game came to a close, Richmond tried to get a goal on the board, taking advantage of fouls and yellow cards against Duquesne. However, a combination of the Dukes’ defense and goalkeeper Maddy Neundorfer’s saves meant that a Spiders goal would not happen, and the game ended with a score of 3-0.
Following the game, Duquesne Head Coach Al Alvine was quick to comment on how proud he was of his team.
“This inspires a lot of confidence,” Alvine said. “We have a young team and finished fifth in the conference two years in a row. That demonstrates consistency, and consistency breeds confidence.”
With their first game in the tournament against UMass coming up, Alvine remained confident in his team’s ability to step up to the situation.
“We have every reason to think we can make some noise in this tournament. We’re ready to rock and roll.”