Duhawks plan to utilize championship mindset in upcoming season

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photo by Loras College Athletics

Looking to bounce back after their first loss of the season, the Duhawks traveled to Kenosha, WI for a non-conference matchup against the Carthage Red Men. The last time these two sides met was during the 2015 NCAA Tournament, as the Duhawks took care of the Red Men with a 3-1 victory in the Rock Bowl.  This time around, the match was a back and forth affair in which defense was the name of the game.

In the first half, Carthage came out aggressively as they tested Duhawk keeper Jacob Peterson. The Red Men’s Adrian Herrera hit a diving shot off a corner kick in the 13th minute, but Peterson stood tall to prevent a goal. Carthage earned another scoring opportunity due to a miscommunication by the Duhawks, as captain Calvin Miller and Peterson mixed up their signals and allowed a bouncing ball to get controlled by Carthage’s Zach Schoffstall. Luckily for the Duhawks, Schoffstall sent his attempt wide of the net to keep it scoreless. Loras earned their best opportunity of the first half as junior Spencer Moore sent a low cross into the box and found freshman Mark Histed for a one-timer, but his attempt was saved by Carthage keeper Brayan Arce Justiniano, and the sides went to half in a scoreless tie.

The Duhawks came out firing in the second half, but still could not make the most of these chances. Moore again attempted to set up a go-ahead goal, as he found freshman Liam O’Connell, but he was unable to convert as Justiniano made a diving save. Loras once again tried to get the lead as Calvin Miller headed a ball on net from the penalty area, but it went begging over the crossbar. A breakthrough occurred in the 89th minute when the Red Men finally netted the go-ahead goal and the Duhawks dropped their second consecutive match, losing 1-0.

Around the same point in the 2015 season, the Duhawks dropped two consecutive matches and then went on to win 14 out of their next 16 matches. This trend of bouncing back after losses is a mentality that sticks with senior captain Alex Bradley.

“We play every game with the mindset of going 1-0 no matter what happened in the game(s) before,” says Bradley. “Having back to back losses obviously hurts but we are looking forward to a full week of practice to work on a few things before our first conference game at Nebraska (Wesleyan) this weekend.”

The purple and gold will have the week to get past a tough loss as they prepare to begin Iowa Conference play on Saturday in Lincoln, NE against the Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolves. The Prairie Wolves come in at 4-0-2, adding yet another competitive team to the IIAC race. With this being their first-ever Iowa Conference game, the Prairie Wolves would love nothing more than to make a statement by knocking off the defending champion Duhawks. As a member of past conference championship teams, Alex Bradley knows that the rest of the conference has the same mindset.

“We have to play every game like it’s a national championship. No matter who our opponent is, we know they are going to play one of their best games of the year against us,” Bradley stated. “I think our conference is going to be very good this year with teams like Luther and University of Dubuque being picked in some of the top 25 rankings already and having some good results. We are ready for the challenge.”

Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23.

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