Duquesne’s Dragisich making an impact as a freshman
Throughout his high school career at West Allegheny, Nathan Dragisich displayed a special type of talent on the soccer pitch.
He was named the Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year, the WPIAL Player of the Year and the Trib HSSN Player of the Year last season after scoring 44 goals and adding 22 assists.
He finished atop West Allegheny’s record books with 86 goals and 52 assists in his career, and he also catapulted the Indians to their first state championship.
Now, Dragisich is starting to do make an impact at Duquesne.
After notching his first career assist in a 1-0 win over Oakland on Sept. 1, the 5-foot-9 freshman midfielder/forward demonstrated his abilities Tuesday when the Dukes took on Niagara.
The game was tied at a goal apiece and Rodrigo Almeida had just tied the score for the Purple Eagles four minutes earlier. As Niagara scrambled in a attempt to win the game, a ball bounced out to Dragisich at the top of the 18-yard box. He settled it and unleashed a shot into the upper-right corner of the net in the 89th minute for the game-winner.
“It was pretty cool, just getting into that situation,” Dragisich said. “It was one of my nicer goals that I’ve scored, so it was a pretty fun night. I’d probably put it in my top-five goals.”
Heading into his collegiate career, Dragisich said he just wanted to come in and play his game, and that mentality has paid off.
He has started all four games for the Dukes. He’s played the fifth-most minutes on the team, and he’s tied for second in points with sophomore forward Manel Busquets.
Although Dragisich has had success through the early part of the season, he did have to go through a small adjustment period.
“When I first started there was a learning gap coming into the college game,” Dragisich said. “I’ve been adapting to it day by day though, and I’m becoming accustomed to it I think.”
Throughout the summer, Dragisich trained with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds professional team as a part of their developmental academy. While it helped him hone his skills, he said it also gave him an insight to what play at the college level might look like.
Not only is Dragisich having success, but the Dukes are off to one of their best starts since 2016.
With a roster made up of several former players from the Pittsburgh area, including Carter Breen from Norwin, Markello Apodiakos from Belle Vernon, Brian Bruzdewicz from Peters Township and several others, Dragisich said the team has been able to develop a special chemistry both on and off the field.
“We already had some sort of chemistry coming into this season, so that always helps get results as a team,” Dragisich said. “Then, all the upperclassmen and the returners have been welcoming, as well. The whole group gets along very well which helps a lot with the team chemistry.”
Now, the Dukes will look to continue their early-season success. To do so, Dragisich believes they just have to keep doing what they are doing.
“We just want to keep taking it one game at a time,” Dragisich said. “We want to keep grinding out results like we have been, and hopefully we can keep getting better and keep carrying on.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .