DURHAM, N.C. - In front of their largest crowd of the season, the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils (3-2-0) were locked in a tight game with the No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers (4-1-0). The Mountaineers scored on a fluke goal with 14:20 remaining in the contest and held on to secure the victory.
The game had been a defensive battle until West Virginia senior midfielder Andy Wright played a long ball from the Mountaineers’ half of the field that just barely got over the Duke defense and ended up at the feet of senior midfielder Mike Anoia. Anoia took a soft shot towards the goal that was charged by Blue Devil senior goalkeeper Justin Papadakis. The shot trickled across the goal, hit the right post, and rolled back out a few inches. A lunging Paul Paradise was able to knock the ball into the net to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 advantage.
Duke dominated the offensive side of the ball throughout the game, especially in the second half. The Blue Devils out-shot the Mountaineers, 15-9, and took more corner kicks, 9-0. However, Duke was only able to put three shots on goal. The Blue Devils were also whistled for 11 fouls to West Virginia’s five and received two yellow cards to the Mountaineers’ one.
Papadakis and the Duke defense were once again brilliant, as together they have allowed only two goals in 434:28 over five games. Papadakis made three saves on the evening, and now has a .857 save percentage on the season. His goals-against-average stands at a meager 0.41.
The Blue Devils came close to putting the ball in the net on several occasions. Just over 25 minutes into the match, junior forward Mike Grella put a sharp cross in from the left side that senior forward Paul Dudley caught on his foot in front of the net and shot over the top of the crossbar. Dudley and Grella would finish with three shots each in the match.
With less than two minutes remaining in the first period, junior midfielder Pavelid Castaneda ripped a shot from 20 yards out towards the top right corner of the goal. The ball spun upward and slammed into the crossbar, missing the net by inches and sending the crowd of 3,981 into a frenzy. Castaneda also took three shots in the game.
Senior midfielder Zack Pope blasted a left-footed shot from 25 yards out after a quick give-and-go with Grella that went wide right by inches. That shot came with 1:32 left in the game as the Blue Devils were scrambling to tie the match. After West Virginia scored, it deliberately attempted to slow down the tempo of the game, especially on their goal kicks, throw-ins and free kicks.
Duke was once again without senior defender and captain Tim Jepson, who has been out will a muscle pull injury in all five of the Blue Devils’ games this season. Jepson may make his return this week in either one of Duke’s two games.
Coach John Rennie’s record as a collegiate coach fell to 446-201-48 in 35 years. He is in fifth place all-time among NCAA Division I coaches for wins and in third place among active coaches for career wins. Duke is now 1-1 against West Virginia, with their victory in the series coming under Rennie in 1981. This will be Rennie’s final season as Duke’s head coach, a decision made prior to the 2007 season.
Duke faces South Carolina on Wed., Sept. 19 at 7 p.m., and No. 6 Maryland on Sat. Sept. 22 at 8 p.m., in the ACC opener for the Blue Devils. Both games are at home in Koskinen Stadium, where admission to all regular season Duke matches is free of charge.