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Duquesne pressures Colonials defense, downing men’s soccer in second A-10 loss

File Photo by Jordyn Bailer | Assistant Photo Editor
Head Coach Craig Jones said the Colonials missed a chance to beat a top-25 team, allowing the Dukes enough time on the ball to puncture the box and score from close range.

Updated: Oct. 3, 2022 at 1:33 p.m.

Men’s soccer lost its second conference game 2–1 against nationally ranked Duquesne in a chilly Saturday matchup at the Mount Vernon Campus field.

After a confident 3-0 away win at James Madison University Wednesday, the Colonials (5-4-2) looked to get their second consecutive win in conference play against the Dukes (7-1-2) who rank second in the Atlantic 10 and No. 24 in the country. The A-10 rivals led possession as the Colonials played with a 5-3-2 formation, hoping to capitalize on the counterattack, but failing to derail their opponent’s offensive stride.

“This is a good team, so we’re definitely not going to win games if you give two goals,” Head Coach Craig Jones said in an interview Saturday. “Well, so that was the biggest frustration, I think the game plan was how we wanted to set up. We knew we could come out of that if we needed to, and we try to do that.”

The Colonials shot at a .143 clip with five shots on goal throughout the match but held a strong defense anchored by senior goalkeeper Justin Grady, who registered a .750 save percentage against 17 shots while saving six, slicing the potential for a higher advantage for Duquesne.

GW kicked off the game with a shot by senior midfielder Elias Norris that ended up going over the bar. The Dukes responded with a shot of their own from out right by freshman midfielder Ask Ekeland that failed to enter the net.

The Colonials held on to a second chance to score when graduate student attacker Oscar Haynes Brown ran the ball from the bottom right to the net, but Domenic once again proved his goaltending dominance with a quick save.

GW took advantage in the 30th minute when senior forward Tom Cooklin put a low cross into the box that junior midfielder Carter Humm kicked in to put GW on the scoreboard first. Momentum shifted a few minutes later when a low bouncing shot by Cooklin nearly gave GW a two-goal lead, but Domenic kept it from entering the net with a save.

The Dukes offense regained ground in the box as shots persisted against Grady, who continued to deter an onslaught of offensive attacks.

Duquesne evened the score with three minutes left in the first half during a counterattack led by junior attack player Nate Dragisich 10 minutes after he entered the game on a substitution. GW senior defender Ryan Cedeno took the ball down the line and tried crossing it during the 42nd minute, but the Duquesne defense intercepted the kick. The Dukes turned to attack the uncovered right side, and found the back of the net on a right-foot shot from Dragisich that curled into the bottom right corner, tying the score at 1–1.

The Colonials were unable to score once again, entering the half with a tied game.

GW kept its defensive edge running into the second half while Duquesne continued knocking at the door with shots coming from all sides of the pitch. The Colonials held them off until Duquesne struck again in the 62nd minute when sophomore forward Maxi Hopfer scored off a header from a corner kick.

The cross ricocheted off Grady’s hand to set up an unsuccessful Dukes header, which the Colonials stopped from entering. Sophomore forward Maxi Hopfer recovered possession and fired a second header into the net to give Duquesne a 2–1 lead.

GW struggled to increase its possession and push into the box in the second half, while Duquesne kept the pressure down to the last minute of the match. The teams exhibited more emotional frustration as scoring chances dwindled in the final 10 minutes of the match, which resulted in two yellow cards for the Colonials and Dukes.

Head Coach Craig Jones said the Colonials missed a chance to beat a top-25 team in the game, allowing the Dukes enough time on the ball to puncture the box and score from close range.

“We talked about playing in the zone – that gives us clarity and gives us composure, but we got to elevate and get into those moments when we’re overhyped,” Jones said. “I think defensively we did a little bit of that, certainly with our midfield guys, we bet a lot of stuff on falling forward.”

Jones said he was happy with the team’s efforts to challenge the opponent’s defense and is looking forward to seeing injured players return to the pitch for Wednesday’s matchup against the UMass Minutemen.

The Colonials will look to bounce back on Wednesday as they welcome the the Minutemen to GW’s home turf. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

Nuria Diaz contributed reporting.

This post has been updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Duquesne scored its second goal after the ball tipped past Grady’s hand. Duquesne sophomore forward Maxi Hopfer scored the goal on the second of two headers that came after Grady tipped the ball. We regret this error. This post was also updated to clarify a save by Grady.

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