DURHAM, N.C.—Duke University rookie midfielder Temi Molinar tallied a pair of goals to lead the Blue Devils to a 3-0 blanking of American University in the final game of the Duke/Nike Men’s Soccer Classic. Duke captured the tournament title with victories over Harvard and American.
The Blue Devils improve to 2-2-0 on the season, while American drops to 2-2-0 overall. Harvard was the runner-up in the tournament by scoring four goals to American’s three. N.C. State was fourth after going 0-2 versus the Crimson and Eagles.
“It was a good win for us,” head coach John Kerr said.” “It was nip and tuck in the first half. We were on top the last 15 minutes of first half and just didn’t get the breakthrough. In the second half we came out with a little more fire and took the game to American and benefited with getting those goals.”
Pavelid Castaneda, Mike Grella, Kyle Bethel, and Darrius Barnes represented the Blue Devils on the Duke/Nike Classic All-Tournament Team, with Castaneda taking home Most Valuable Player honors. The 3-0 win is the first shutout for the Blue Devils this season.
“I can’t stress the importance of [winning both games this weekend] enough,” Castaneda said. “We had two tough losses at Indiana. We knew we had to come and get two wins and nothing else was going to be acceptable. It wasn’t the best soccer that we can play but it was two wins. We’re as happy as can be with the weekend.”
Both teams attacked from the opening whistle, but were unable to generate any really good scoring opportunities in the opening 20 minutes. American got a few close looks at the net, but a solid Blue Devil backline kept the Eagles off the scoreboard.
In the final 15 minutes of the half, Duke’s high intensity play started to wear American down. The Blue Devils controlled the run of play for much of those 15 minutes, but were unable to find that final pass against the disciplined American defensive unit.
With the two squads playing smothering defense, only the Eagles were able to get a shot off in the opening 45 minutes as they headed into the locker room tied at zero.
Duke continued to try to push the pace in the second half and generate some dangerous attacks. Just five minutes into the frame, rookie Kyle Bethel collected the ball in the final third and ran at the Eagle defense. Looking to go to goal, Bethel was pulled down by an American defender, resulting in an automatic red card from the referee.
Now with just 10 players on the field and 40 minutes remaining in the half, the Blue Devils looked to continue playing their game and take advantage of the man advantage. It took 15 minutes for Duke to get on the board. Freshman midfielder Kwasi Ayisi served the ball in from the right flank, where Molinar was running in from the weak side. After a bit of a scrum in the box, Molinar collected the loose ball and stuck the ball in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with 35:12 left to play.
“We stress discipline with them,” said Kerr. “We know that it’s going to get heated out there. There’s going to be challenges, there’s going to be red cards and yellow cards. We just have to keep our composure and keep trying to play. I was proud of them to day when there was a red card, they stayed away from the altercations and we just kept creating opportunities.”
Just 2:08 later it was Grella making it 2-0 with a great service from sophomore Nick Sih. A long ball from the midfield found a streaking Sih on the right touchline. Sih collected the pass and flighted the ball to Grella, who fired it past American keeper, Matt Makowski.
Molinar struck again, getting in behind the defense on the far post and put a slotted ball from Bethel just inside the left post for the 3-0 Blue Devil win. Despite playing with 10 men, American continued to attack. The Eagles had a good chance on net with l5 minutes left, but Anthony Moy’s shot was picked up by Duke keeper Brendan Fitzgerald to keep the game at 3-0.
“We’ve been stressing to [Temi] that with his speed he needs to be aggressive going forward and don’t wait for the defenders to get back and that if [he] sees an opening go for it,” Kerr said.” “Today, he benefited from going at runners in the first goal and creating an opening and on the second goal we told him if you end up as a weak side forward at the back post you’re going to score goals.”
The Blue Devils edged American, 9-7, in the shots category and 7-6 in corner kicks. Fitzgerald made three stops for the shutuout, while Makowski had four saves in the contest.
Duke opens Atlantic Coast Conference play on Sept. 12, traveling to take on Virginia Tech at 7:30 p.m.
Third Place: American
Fourth Place: N.C. State
MVP: Pavelid Castaneda, Duke