PITTSBURGH – Duquesne notched its fifth straight home win of the season last night with a polished performance that swept aside Pittsburgh rival Robert Morris by 4-1 at Rooney Field.
The Dukes (5-2-2) missed a clutch of scoring opportunities before Kadeem Pantophlet found the breakthrough eight minutes before half-time. Second-half strikes by Dorian Kouame, Thomas de Villardi and Karter Sell sealed a deserved Duquesne win with Speedy Williams netting a consolation for RMU (3-4-1).
Pantophlet’s aerial threat caused problems for the Colonial defense throughout the game, but there was much more to the Dukes’ play than the long ball. Midfield duo Kouame and Fredrik Borenstein pulled Robert Morris apart with their ball retention and incisive passing while left-back Chris Alescio constantly threatened with his overlapping raids.
Duquesne should have taken the lead within two minutes when center-back Nick DiSomma nodded Kouame’s deep corner kick back to the middle of the 6-yard box. Pantophlet steered his header straight at RMU goalkeeper Brenden Alfery.
English midfielder Nigel Seidu left Alfery helpless on five minutes when the ball dropped to him at the edge of the 18-yard box. His searing blast smacked against Alfery’s crossbar on its way over the target.
The home side’s rhythm took a knock on eight minutes when Jason Twum was helped from the field after a collision with RMU’s Chris Miller. Reigning Northeast Conference Player of the Year Neco Brett had a half-chance to threaten the Dukes’ goal on 18 minutes after Carl Reid turned Matt Essig on the left touchline. Brett’s chest control was too firm and the ball ran away from him.
Alescio kickstarted Duquesne’s revival with his surging bursts up the left flank. He provided a cross on 19 minutes that Sell should have converted at the back post. The senior forward sent his header inches over the bar.
Sell found the target five minutes later with a firm low shot that forced Alfery into a good save.
Pantophlet joined Duquesne’s soccer team last year after spending two seasons with the school’s basketball team. The 6-foot-7-inch Dutchman grabbed his fourth goal of the season on 37 minutes with a perfectly executed header to guide Isaiah Noreiga’s cross into Alfery’s far corner.
Austin Lange should have ended the contest before half-time when he controlled a left-to-right switch to gain freedom within RMU’s 18-yard box. Lange hesitated, waiting for the ball to reach the ideal height for a strike on goal. He then drilled his effort inches over the top.
Pantophlet’s presence could easily tempt Duquesne to hurl deep crosses into the penalty area. Second-year head coach Chase Brooks has prevented that temptation from overwhelming his players. Short, sharp passing down the left side pulled RMU’s right-back Miller out of position on 55 minutes, allowing Alescio to create the second goal. Pantophlet attracted the defensive attention with his front-post run. Alescio picked out Kouame with a deeper cutback and the Frenchman dispatched his shot inside Alfery’s far post.
The Dukes were flying. De Villardi took advantage of the space opening up in midfield on 72 minutes, driving toward RMU’s penalty area after a one-two with Brian Fegley before drilling a left-foot shot beyond Alfery’s reach. Three-nil.
A momentary lapse in concentration by Duquesne’s defense allowed Robert Morris to pull a goal back on 77 minutes. Reid jinked past two opponents on the right wing before centering for Williams to sweep the ball home.
Duquesne’s three-goal cushion was restored within seconds of the restart. Sell seized on a rebound after Alfery had palmed away Borenstein’s drive to volley the ball past the Colonials goalkeeper.
The Dukes complete their preparations for the forthcoming Atlantic 10 Conference season with a trip down the I-79 to West Virginia on Oct. 5.
Robert Morris travels to Washington, D.C. for Sunday’s meeting with Howard before returning to Moon Township to host Pittsburgh in another Steel City Derby next Tuesday.
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