DURHAM, N.C. --- The No. 23 Blue Devils (9-5-1, 3-3-1) earned their second win in three days on Sunday night with a 3-0 win at home over the Cleveland State Vikings (3-12-2, 0-6-1 Horizon League). Duke was playing it third game in six days this week, a stretch in which they went 2-0-1.
“It was absolutely critical that we get some results here,” said head coach John Rennie. “The results the last three games have been terrific. We’re getting back to being used to having Tim Jepson back there and other guys that had been injured early like [Joshua] Medcalf, [Spencer] Wadsworth and [Zack] Pope. They’re healthy and it makes a tremendous difference.”
Only 5:38 into the match, senior midfielder Zack Pope took a corner kick from the left side of the field that sailed into the box. Senior midfielder and captain Michael Videira played the ball perfectly with his head and past Viking goalkeeper Dan Duric. It was Pope’s fourth assist of the year and the first goal since the season opener for Videira.
Cleveland State’s defense would prove stingy throughout the evening, drawing Duke into eight offsides violations and only committing six fouls. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, were charged with 17 fouls.
It would be late in the first half before Duke would hit paydirt again. This time it was a trio of seniors that connected for a goal. Defender and captain Tim Jepson and midfielder Joe Germanese played two quick passes to midfielder/forward Spencer Wadsworth at the top of the box. Wadsworth turned and fired off a right-footed shot to the right quarter of the net to put Duke up 2-0 going into the locker room. It was Germanese’s team-leading sixth dish on the year.
The second half would see the Blue Devils continue to dominate, controlling the ball and outshooting the Vikings. However, Cleveland State’s defense refused to yield again for the majority of the half.
With 3:22 remaining in the match, junior forward Mike Grella played a ball across to graduate student and forward Joshua Medcalf. Medcalf blasted a shot from 15 yards out towards the left corner of the net. It deflected off the hands of Viking goalkeeper Nick Harpel and into the net to ice the victory for the Blue Devils.
Medcalf has now scored six goals and four assists in only 429 minutes. That averages out to 3.35 points-per-90 minutes for the graduate student and Vanderbilt transfer from Tulsa, Okla. Medcalf has also scored a goal in three straight matches and at least one point in six of Duke’s last eight games.
“He [Medcalf]’s a different kind of a forward than we have,” said Rennie. “He knows how to get in the right places and he knows how to score goals. He takes advantage of his opportunities, he’s very smart and he works very hard... He makes us a better team.”
The Blue Devils outshot their opponent for the 12th time in 15 games this season, holding a 25-5 advantage over the Vikings. Duke has outshot the opposition this season 282-140, and holds a shots on goal advantage of 113-67. Videira led Duke with eight shots in the match.
The Duke defense was strong once again, holding its opponent to one goal or less for the 12th time this year. Junior goalkeeper Brendan Fitzgerald made his first start of the season and made one save.
With the win, Duke improves to 9-5-1 and is 3-3-1 in the ACC this year. Cleveland St. falls to 3-12-2 this season overall and is 0-6-1 in the Horizon League.
Sunday night’s match was the first between Duke and Cleveland St. The Blue Devils are now 3-0 all-time against Horizon League foes, with wins coming over Butler in 2000 and on Sept. 2 this season against Valparaiso.
Rennie’s record as a collegiate coach is now 452-203-50 in 35 years. Rennie is in fifth place all-time among NCAA Division I coaches for wins and in third place among active coaches for career wins. With his 408 victories at Duke and 94 in ACC play, Rennie has the most wins of any coach in ACC history. He won Duke’s first national championship in any sport in 1986. This will be Rennie’s final season as Duke’s head coach, a decision made prior to the 2007 season.
Jepson was named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually in eight NCAA Division I sports to a senior student-athlete who excels both on and off the field. Fans can vote once a day per computer online until Nov. 21 at http://soccer.seniorclassaward.com/public/men/vote.aspx. Fan balloting will be coupled with votes from coaches, media and sponsors to determine the recipient of the award. Winners will be announced during the NCAA Championships, scheduled December 14-16 in Cary, N.C.
The Blue Devils began a challenging run on Oct. 19 that involves six games in 17 days. Duke hits the road on Wednesday to face Davidson at 7 p.m., in Davidson, N.C. The Blue Devils then return home on Sunday, Nov. 4 to take on Alabama A&M in the final regular season home match of 2007. Admission to all regular season men’s soccer games in Koskinen Stadium is free of charge.