The Duhawks’ season ended on Saturday, April 28, with an 11-4 loss against the Aurora University Spartans. They finished in sixth in the conference with a 7-9 overall record and a 5-6 record in the MWLC, the best so far in program history.
In the game against the Spartans, the Duhawks held their own during the first half, trailing 3-1 with a goal from senior Katie Kulas.
The offense contributed three more goals during the game, with one more coming from Kulas, and a goal each from juniors Sarah James and Renata Veljacic.
Throughout the match, the Duhawks led in caused turnovers and draw controls, 18-15 and 10-7 respectively, and kept pace with Aurora’s ground balls, 28-29.
In her last career match anchoring the defense, goalie Ashley McGee recorded 13 saves with a .542 save percentage, her second highest of the season, only beaten by her .630 save percentage in the April 19 matchup against the Cornell Rams.
“(It) was a fantastic game. We fought hard, and Aurora definitely didn’t expect us to come out swinging as hard as we did. We worked hard and were grinding for all 60 minutes. It was a solid game, things were clicking and it was the best that I’ve seen from this team all season,” said Head Coach Barbara Vega, despite the loss.
In her first season coaching the Duhawks, Vega has been the first coach to help bring the Duhawks this close to the MWLC tournament.
“At the beginning of the season, we were playing a lot of individual games,” said Vega, “but once we got going, by the end we were playing as a whole unit.”
The team’s determination was crucial in getting shooting for postseason.
“The team always had the talent to get this far, every single player put in the work, and the biggest key was figuring out how to use everybody’s strengths.”
The road wasn’t easy, especially during the last couple of weeks of the season while the Rock Bowl renovations began.
The team instead practiced at the Dubuque Soccer Complex, which brought a serious change of scenery and a newfound appreciation for astroturf.
The team was also plagued with injuries and illnesses throughout the season, but still worked hard and fought hard every single practice and game.
Next year, much of the team will return, hoping for further program improvement.
“We have a lot of really great talent coming in that will fit well with our existing players,” said Vega, “We’re unfortunately losing a lot of great individuals who are graduating, but it’ll be awesome to have so much support and a great alumni base. We’re excited to see what next year will bring. It was exciting to be able to play for a spot in the conference tournament, and it’ll be a huge motivator for the players to work extra hard in the off season. Rain or shine, we still grind.”