Duquesne Women Win Steel City Classic Event

Written by Ian Thomson

PITTSBURGH – The Duquesne Dukes beat Saint Francis University by 3-0 Sunday at Rooney Field to clinch the second annual Steel City Classic tournament.

Two goals from freshman forward Kristen Kotsopoulos and one from former Beadling midfielder Abby Losco left Duquesne as the only team with two wins over the weekend. The Dukes had beaten Robert Morris University by 2-0 on Friday night to open the non-conference portion of their 2015 schedule.

Defending champion Pittsburgh had demolished RMU by 6-0 earlier on Sunday to finish the tournament with four points (1-0-1) and force Duquesne into beating the Red Flash to win the title. The Dukes’ triumph means that the host school has won both Steel City Classic events to date. Robert Morris hosts the season-opening tournament next year.

Duquesne's Kristen Kotsopoulos bagged two goals in Sunday's 3-0 win over Saint Francis (Photo: Ian Thomson).
Duquesne’s Kristen Kotsopoulos bagged two goals in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Saint Francis (Photo: Ian Thomson).

Duquesne displayed great depth and a multitude of attacking weapons over its two games with Kotsopoulos, Losco, Malea Fabean, Linnea Faccenda, Katie O’Connor, Maggie Mayo and Amy Vinopal all producing solid performances. The one downside for Dukes head coach Al Alvine was the loss of impressive left-back Haley Yow with a sprained ankle during Friday’s game.

Saint Francis right-back Casey Gallaher made a desperate sliding block on her goal line to prevent Caroline Lacy from putting Duquesne ahead after 20 minutes of Sunday’s clash. Parity was broken five minutes later when Kotsopoulos headed home a cross from Mayo.

The second half was an open contest with both goalkeepers called upon to make comfortable saves. Fabean saw her header blocked by Red Flash goalkeeper Romina Kunze before her 20-yard lob rebounded off the goal post.

Increasing Duquesne pressure finally paid off on 79 minutes when Lasco seized on a turnover to slot a tidy finish past Kunze. Kotsopoulos removed any doubts over the outcome three minutes from the end when she finished off a through ball from Lacy.

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Duquesne had started the tournament by gaining revenge for last year’s season-opening loss to Robert Morris. Freshman forward O’Connor reacted quickest inside the 6-yard box to notch the opener on 36 minutes after Maddie Layman’s attempt to head home Vinopal’s corner kick was blocked.

The Dukes’ domination continued after the interval although the Colonials should have tied the game on a counter attack with seven minutes remaining. Cassie Raymond found Greer Monahan wide open in front of goal. Monahan drilled her shot against the legs of Duquesne goalkeeper Vanessa Perdomo.

It was a costly miss. Duquesne was awarded a penalty kick on its next attack and Layman tucked her effort away to seal the victory.

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20150823_pitt women_jarena harmon
Pitt’s Jarena Harmon (No. 23) notched a hat trick for the Panthers against Robert Morris (Photo: Ian Thomson).

Pitt found little difficulty in seeing off the Colonials in Sunday’s first game. Freshman forward Jarena Harmon opened the scoring on 38 minutes after a neat move involving Clare Beahn and Kaylee Rabatin. Harmon bundled the Panthers into a two-goal lead seconds before the halftime whistle after Alex Reckas’ misdirected cross initially forced RMU goalkeeper Chelsea de Jager to scramble the ball off her goal line.

Junior defender Siobhan McDonough put in an excellent display with her continued support of Pitt’s attack from right back. Her inexperienced defensive colleagues Alli Higgs, Niki Hopkins and Seyla Perez showed that they have quickly formed an understanding.

RMU’s defense fell apart in the second half. Roosa Arvas buried two shots from distance shortly before the hour mark. Harmon completed her hat trick on 77 minutes, and Rabatin’s cross landed inside the far post with two minutes remaining.

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Pitt’s superior goal difference would have won them a second straight Steel City Classic title had they converted one more of the 47 shots they took Friday against Saint Francis.

The Red Flash went ahead on seven minutes when sophomore forward Allison LaDuke glanced a diving header beyond Panthers goalkeeper Taylor Francis to convert Kelly Beegle’s excellent cross from the left flank. It proved to be the Saints’ sole attempt of the game as the Panthers thoroughly dominated play without finding the net.

Saints defender Gallaher shinned McDonough’s cross against her own post on 21 minutes while the introduction of Taylor Pryce and Juliana Vasquez pepped up Pitt’s attacking play.

Pryce found the net on 61 minutes with a cool finish on a 1-v-1 with Saints goalkeeper Kunze after Ashley Moreira’s pass split the Red Flash defense.

Hanna Hannesdottir struck the crossbar on 72 minutes as Pitt pressed for the seemingly inevitable winner.

Three minutes had elapsed in the second period of overtime when Pryce thought she had won the game for the Panthers. The Canadian sophomore headed home a free kick on Kunze’s 6-yard line only to be flagged offside.

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Pitt travels to the Centennial State this week for two games against Northern Colorado and Colorado College. Duquesne faces a tough test at No. 12-ranked West Virginia University next Sunday while Robert Morris hosts Niagara in Moon Township.

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Steel City Classic Standings

  Pts Record Goals
Duquesne 6 2-0-0 5-0
Pittsburgh 4 1-0-1 7-1
Saint Francis 1 0-1-1 1-4
Robert Morris 0 0-2-0 0-8


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