Men’s soccer puts up a fight but falls to #24 Duquesne 2-1 | WRGW Sports

Men’s soccer puts up a fight but falls to #24 Duquesne 2-1 | WRGW Sports

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By: Liam O’Murchu

GW men’s soccer dropped an A-10 match to #24 Duquesne 2-1 on Saturday after taking the lead in the first half and conceding two goals on either side of halftime.

“We’re just super disappointed with the two goals we gave up.” GW head coach Craig Jones said. “You can’t give away goals like that and expect to win, nevermind when it’s against a good team.”

The Dukes (7-1-2, 2-0-1 A-10) undoubtedly came out on the front foot but the Buff & Blue (5-4-2, 1-2 A-10) did well to absorb pressure early on. Duquesne looked dangerous on crosses, especially as the ball was moving quickly on the wet turf.

GW began to come out of their shell around the 25th minute as senior midfielder Tom Cooklin began getting on the ball more. Cooklin held up the ball, played it down the wing to senior defender Ryan Cedeno, who played a low cross into junior midfielder Carter Humm. Humm headed it towards the near post but graduate student goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben managed to parry it out for a corner kick.

Five minutes later, Cooklin got on the ball again and beat his man down the right wing. He then played a tantalizing cross that Nascimben couldn’t hold onto. Standing by the back post was Humm, who gathered the ball and tapped it into an open net for his second goal of the season.

The GW bench erupted as Humm sprinted to the corner and was mobbed by his teammates. The Buff & Blue had 60 minutes to hang on for their first victory over a ranked team since 1997.

Duquesne continued knocking on the door and sophomore forward Maxi Hopfer got a decent chance in the 35th minute off the volley that was pushed aside by GW senior goalkeeper Justin Grady.

In the 43rd minute, GW got caught with numbers up the field. After an intercepted cross, junior Nate Dragisich played a through ball down the left wing to junior forward Jacob Casha. Casha surged towards goal, cut it back and curled it to the back post. All Grady could do was stand and watch as it rustled the net to equalize the score moments before halftime.

The Dukes continued their onslaught to start the second half, applying lots of pressure to the GW goal. In the 63rd minute, GW finally cracked. Duquesne played in a corner that Grady flapped at, allowing the ball to bounce around the box and be blocked twice on the goal line before Hopfer put it in from point blank range.

Grady came into the game nursing a hamstring injury from the team’s game against James Madison three days earlier. He didn’t take some goal kicks on Saturday and looked limited on a few instances but still made six saves.

“I didn’t think he had a great game to be honest.” Jones said. “So maybe [his hamstring] did influence him a little bit. I don’t think so. I mean, he was cleared to play. He trained yesterday and he was good. He hasn’t had an off day yet [this season] but unfortunately he picked today to have his off day. He will be the first to hold his hand up when he makes a mistake, but he’s also been the guy who’s kept us in a lot of games this year. Sometimes you have a day off and unfortunately, it was just one bad mistake, but his overall effort has been great.”

The Buff & Blue looked to respond quickly following the goal and got a great chance in the 69th minute. Cooklin slid in and turned the Dukes over in a dangerous spot before driving into space and playing a dangerous ball in. Graduate student forward Oscar Haynes Brown found himself in some space and got a good foot on it. Unfortunately for GW, he put it over the bar after taking it off the bounce.

After that GW lost a few runners on set pieces but weren’t punished for it. The referee struggled to maintain control of the game all day, missing obvious fouls and refusing to hand out yellow cards early on while also whistling for minor infractions that were not fouls.

**EDITOR’S NOTE: I know I’ve advocated for letting the lads play in the past, but this referee made a mess of the game. He lost the respect of coaches and players alike by letting things slide he shouldn’t have while blowing his whistle for things that simply weren’t fouls.**

This mismanagement manifested itself in a confrontation between GW redshirt senior midfielder Grant Barrientos (who was playing in his first game this season after suffering a head injury in preseason) and Hopfer, among other Dukes. 

Barrientos went to quickly retrieve a ball out for a throw-in next to the Duquesne bench. Hopfer looked to poke the ball away but Barrientos stuck his body into Hopfer (he probably gave him a bit of an elbow but Hopfer certainly oversold the contact). The Austrian native was down on the ground for one minute and thirty seven seconds before he mustered the strength to get back up. Despite the protests of the Dukes bench, Barrientos only received a yellow card. Also the recipient of a yellow card was Duquesne sophomore forward Jayden Da for… something (I’m assuming dissent because he didn’t touch anyone).

I realize I’m being a bit ridiculous but these things happen because of bad refereeing. The referee, Matthew Kreitzer, allowed the game to get out of hand and both players thought they could get away with some unnecessary nonsense. And here’s the funniest part: they were right.

After that Duquesne closed out the result. Although it would be irresponsible to not at least shout out an incredible goal saving tackle from junior defender Lucas Matuszewski in the 88th minute.

“I think we missed one today.” Jones said. “We had a chance to beat a team in the top 25. Like I said, we went up 1-0 and we weren’t super comfortable. But that’s hopefully what the guys will learn from. You have these moments and you have to take them. We didn’t quite take our chance today to maybe get a scalp of a top 25 team. But we have a chance maybe on Wednesday, depending where UMass ends up.”

It was a strong team performance, even if the result wasn’t commensurate with the showing. This is the second straight strong performance for GW after they picked up a 3-0 win over James Madison last Wednesday. They’ll look to build on it against a very talented UMass team on Wednesday at home. Kickoff is set for 1 PM on ESPN+.

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