Fox Chapel grad Deena DeBaldo delivers for Duquesne
Deena DeBaldo assisted on a goal for the Duquesne University women’s soccer team in Thursday’s 2-1 victory over Richmond at Rooney Field.
It was just the latest in a series of key contributions from the junior midfielder/forward this season.
The Fox Chapel graduate has established herself as a leader on and off the field for a young Dukes team still growing in a challenging Atlantic 10 Conference and beyond.
“Last year, I was mainly center mid, and I have been at forward more this year,” DeBaldo said. “I just want to continue playing well and help create as many goals as I can for my team, whether that is scoring them or setting them up.”
Duquesne’s roster is void of seniors this season, and there is only one redshirt junior. DeBaldo is one of six true juniors with 14 sophomores and four freshmen.
“There were a number of seniors and other older girls above me last year who stepped up for the team, and coming into this season, I wanted to do the same,” DeBaldo said. “We are a young team, but I think we’re all coming together nicely.”
Thursday’s victory over Richmond was Duquesne’s second in four conference games, and it upped its overall record to 4-4-2.
DeBaldo achieved a rare honor earlier this season when she became the first player in the history of Duquesne women’s soccer to earn back-to-back Atlantic 10 Conference player of the week awards.
She scored a hat trick in the second half of a 6-0 rout of Youngstown State on Sept. 15. A week later, in a 2-1 victory in the Atlantic 10 opener against Virginia Commonwealth, she recorded the game-tying goal in the 73rd minute and assisted on the game winner in the 83rd minute.
“That really meant a lot to me. I was really shocked that I got it two weeks in a row,” DeBaldo said. “There are so many players in the league that are doing well each week.”
“Whenever players have an impact on the game like that, you hope they are going to be recognized, and fortunately, Deena was,” Dukes coach Al Alvine said. “She definitely deserved it. It was really special to see.”
For the season, DeBaldo leads the team in shots (24), goals (7), assists (3) and points (17). She is three goals short of the team record for goals in a season.
Her point total ranks second in the Atlantic 10. Only UMass’ Melissa Kossler has more with 20. She also is second in goals to Kossler’s eight.
“Deena is playing as well as she has ever played here,” Alvine said. “She was a starter from the start her freshman year, and that was on a high-level, upperclassmen-heavy team. She’s bounced around to a number of positions, which is a testament to her versatility. She’s more of a striker this year, and she’s really blossomed in that role.”
DeBaldo, who has started 46 of her 47 games played at Duquesne, said she is grateful for the opportunity to put the ball in the back of the net, but she knows there are a lot of quality scorers on the team who can get the job done.
“I have just been lucky at times, and I’ve also worked hard to be in a position to score,” she said. “I appreciate my teammates for what they do to get me the ball.”
Duquesne has just six games left — all Atlantic 10 contests — before the conference tournament begins Nov. 2. The stretch run starts Sunday at 1 p.m. at Rooney Field against George Mason.
DeBaldo, an education major, said she’s excited to see what the team is able to do in the final weeks of the regular season.
“We lost two games recently that I thought we dominated. At the end, they just weren’t the results that we wanted,” she said. “But we have to put those games aside, keep practicing hard and remember what we need to do to win the rest of these games.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-856-7400 x8632, [email protected] or via Twitter .