DURHAM, N.C. - The No. 2 Duke Blue Devils (2-0) used two second half goals by junior forward Mike Grella to overcome a tight game and claim a 2-0 victory over the Valparaiso Crusaders (0-2).
In a match that was drastically different from Duke’s Friday night 6-1 opening win over Delaware, offensive results were difficult to come by for the Blue Devils for the first 68 minutes of the game. In the first-ever meeting between the two teams, the first half proved to be a defensive battle.
Duke began to take control as the first half went along, despite Valpo playing a deliberately slow game. The Blue Devils were only able to take eight shots, of which just one was on goal. The Crusaders got off three shots, with Duke senior goalkeeper Justin Papadakis making saves on two and the third going wide.
In the second half it became clear that Duke was eager to turn up the tempo and came out of the locker room firing away. The Blue Devils would shoot 20 times in the second frame, putting half of their shots on goal and forcing Valparaiso’s sophomore goaltender Ryan Schwarz to make eight saves in the period.
The turning point of the game came with just under 22 minutes remaining to play, as Papadakis took a goal kick that sailed well over midfield towards forward Joshua Medcalf. Medcalf skipped the ball with his head behind him to a waiting Grella, who turned, dribbled a few feet and blasted a shot from 30 yards out into the back left corner of the net.
Duke almost scored two more goals between their first and second in the second half. Grella had a one-on-one with the Schwarz, but as he tried to make a move around him, a Valpo defender swooped in, forcing Grella to rush his shot and have it saved. Senior forward Paul Dudley took six shots on the night, but his most impressive was a rocket that went off the crossbar and ricocheted off the goalkeeper, just barely missing going in.
With less that six minutes left on the clock, Grella added an insurance goal after some long passing by senior midfielder Michael Videira and sophomore midfielder Ryan McDaniel. From the left side of the field, Videira placed a ball to an open McDaniel on the right side of the field in the corner. McDaniel quickly crossed the ball in front of the goal to Grella, who chipped it over Schwarz for his second score of the game.
For Videira, it marked his third assist on the season and put him into a tie with former Blue Devil standout Clint Carnell for sixth place with 34 career assists on the all-time Duke list. Senior forward Spencer Wadsworth sits in seventh place on that list with 33 assists. Former national player of the year Tom Kain holds the school record with 45.
Papadakis and the Duke defense once again had an outstanding game, as Papadakis played all 90 minutes in gaining the shutout victory. He made four saves and has yet to be scored on in two games this season. For the second straight game, senior captain and defender Tim Jepson was held out due to a muscle pull. Freshman Christian Ibeagha again got the start and played well. Freshman Doug Ferner also saw significant playing time off the bench on the back line.
On Fri., Sept. 7, and Sun., Sept. 9, the 26th annual Duke/adidas Classic will be held on campus with four games featuring four teams. Duke takes on Villanova at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and No. 19 St. Louis at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. N.C. State will take on St. Louis at 5 p.m. on Friday and Villanova at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to all regular season men’s soccer games is free.