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The Dukes struggle to find the back of the net: Remain winless in A-10 play

Photo Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics

The Duquesne women’s soccer team fell to their conference foes from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) by a score of 1-0.

In the 50th minute of this matchup at Arthur J. Rooney Field, VCU’s Julia Suarez scored the game's only goal on an unassisted laser into the back of the net from 30 yards out. That was Suarez’s fourth goal of the 2015 campaign. The combination of Sharon Wojcik and Suarez has given many defenses trouble, but Coach Al Alvine’s gameplan allowed the Dukes to contain them aside from that one goal.

“I thought we did a really good job of it. They had a lot of shots, but a lot of them were from distance, over the goal, to the side of the goal. We were happy to concede that,” said Alvine. “Our gameplan was to take that space away and force them to take shots from long range.”

Duquesne entered the game with a record of 5-5-0 overall. On the other side, the Rams came in standing at 3-6-1 overall. This was the second Atlantic 10 (A-10) Conference contest for both teams and both were searching for their first A-10 wins.

Duquesne managed six shots on goal compared to VCU’s four despite being outshot 14-7 by the Rams.

“It’s just one of those games. It’s tight... Their goalkeeper was busier than ours,” said Alvine. “We created some good chances. We had some good opportunities, but in the end we just need to score.”

The Dukes were missing leading scorer Katie O’Connor as she was suspended following a red card in the last match against Richmond. Katie brings speed and aggressiveness and her constant pressure causes trouble for opponents.

“Not having Katie up top is a blow for us,” said Alvine. “She’s been part of our offense when we get going, she’s a big point getter, and our leading goal scorer. We need other players to step up obviously when she’s not out there.”

Duquesne was able to do a nice job throughout the game of dominating possession and slowing down VCU, but ultimately they weren’t able to capitalize on their chances.

“I think by us keeping the ball and just possessing it more we had the better of the play and they couldn’t come at us real hard,” freshman center back Casey Aunkst said.

VCU controlled the game early on, but a few Duquesne substitutions, Amy Vinopal and A.J. Baroffio helped them regain composure and dominate the later part of the contest.

It’s not always easy to come off the bench and immediately make an impact, but Vinopal seems to find a way and she stressed preparation and team chemistry as major factors.

“It’s easy when you want to work hard for your teammates,” Vinopal said. “And they make it easy to work hard for them.”

The Dukes will play next on Oct. 8 at home against St. Bonaventure (3-5-2). Aside from finishing opportunities, Coach Alvine said he doesn’t plan on changing much before their tilt with the Bonnies. 

*Story originally published on October 4, 2015.

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