BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—Indiana’s John Mellencamp fired home a shot in the 85th minute to lift the seventh-ranked Hoosiers to a 2-1 victory over Duke in the season opener for both teams at the adidas/IU Credit Union Men’s Soccer Classic. Freshman Kyle Bethel scored the goal for the Blue Devils.
“We are two weeks in and our goal has been to get better each day and tonight was a great test of character against one of the top teams in the country at their home opener,” Kerr said. “It was a great crowd and great atmosphere. We have our heads held high. I thought the performance was excellent tonight.”
After a scoreless first half that saw both teams generate good opportunities, Indiana capitalized twice in the second frame to emerge victorious. Both teams generated a lot of offense with a combined 23 shots and 11 corner kicks in the 90 minutes of soccer.
Duke was able to put some early pressure on the Hoosiers and had its first opportunity about 13 minutes in when a corner kick nearly sailed in at the far post, but was tipped out by the Indiana keeper.
The Blue Devils continued to control the ball in the midfield with a high-pressure defensive game. Winning the loose balls at the midfield, Duke was able to find its targets and create scoring opportunities throughout the opening 25 minutes.
“We came to compete tonight and I think we made sure we didn’t expose ourselves early and when we won the ball we kept possession pretty well and attacked as a unit and created some good openings,” head coach John Kerr said.
Defensively, Duke’s pressure and ability to win the loose balls frustrated the Hoosiers as they were unable to get in behind the defense successfully those first 25 minutes. Indiana started gaining momentum in the final 15 minutes, running hard at the Blue Devil defense.
One of Indiana’s best chances of the opening half came in the 30th minute as Greg Klazura got on the end of a long ball and slotted the ball across the face of the goal, but was denied by Duke senior Darrius Barnes who put the ball out of danger.
Nearing the end of the first 45 minutes, the Hoosiers nearly capitalized on a slight defensive miscue as the ball was headed past the goalie in the 18-yard box. The Blue Devil defense recovered and turned the ball away to keep it at a scoreless draw heading into the break.
“I think we tired late in the first half and we didn’t capitalize on our openings so they came into the game a little bit and they put people forward and tried to go at us and we were resilient at the end of the first half,” Kerr said. “We were happy to get to halftime 0-0.”
Both teams finished with five shots and one shot on goal apiece, while the Hoosiers had five corner kicks to Duke’s three.
After some up-and-down play in the early minutes of the first half, the Hoosiers got on the board in the 59th minute with a score by Kevin Alston. Alston’s shot from just outside the 18th deflected off of a Blue Devil defender and spun over Fitzgerald’s head into the back of the net.
The Blue Devils answered three minutes later when senior Mike Grella collected a long ball from the back. Grella beat the defender to the end line and slotted the ball into a streaking Bethel who put the ball in for his first collegiate goal.
Both teams continued to push the pace in the second part of the frame with both the Blue Devils and Hoosiers generating scoring opportunities. The Hoosiers nearly made it a 2-1 game with seven minutes to go. Indiana won the ball at midfield and attacked down the right flank. Neil Wilmarth served the ball to the back post, but the header went just high.
Indiana capitalized on an opportunity in the 85th minute as John Mellencamp fired home a service from Brad Ring. Ring collected the ball on the right side and flighted the ball across the box to Mellencamp, who struck it just perfectly under the crossbar for the winning score.
The Blue Devils continued to push forward, but were unable to answer in the final five minutes as the No. 7 Hoosiers escaped with a 2-1 victory. Indiana held a slight 12-11 lead in shots and a 6-5 advantage in corner kicks. Fitzgerald made one save in 90 minutes of action, while Chay Cain had two stops for Indiana.
Duke returns to action on Aug. 31 to take on No. 10 Notre Dame at 11:30 a.m., at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Notre Dame fell to Akron, 3-0, in its opening game of the tournament.