DURHAM, N.C.—Three rookies tallied at least one point to lead the No. 21/25 Duke University men’s soccer team to a 2-0 non-conference victory over visiting Davidson College this evening at Koskinen Stadium. Freshmen Kyle Bethel and Joseph Pak were the goal scorers for Duke.
“The good part about this game is that we can not play well and still come out with a victory, and obviously any coach is happy with a shutout,” said head coach John Kerr. “Davidson made life difficult. They came out to play and didn’t just sit behind the ball and they did well and caused us to work harder than we wanted to.”
The 2-0 victory pushes the Blue Devils win streak to four games and puts Duke at 4-2-0 overall on the season. Davidson falls to 1-5-0 on the year.
The Blue Devils were able to generate a few early chances against the Wildcats, but the final pass was not quite there as Davidson kept Duke off the scoreboard. Bethel had his first great look at goal just eight minutes when a slotted ball from the endline found him at the 12-yard mark. Bethel couldn’t quite get enough of the ball as his shot was gobbled up by Davidson goalie Robbie Goldsberry.
Getting a good opportunity of his own at the 28-minute mark, Pak nearly tallied his first collegiate goal when he flicked a corner kick to the far post where a Davidson defender cleared it off the line.
The Wildcats never backed down and were able to get forward and make the Blue Devils work hard. With about 25 minutes left to play, Davidson found open space behind the Duke back four, but a quick step off his line by senior goalie Brendan Fitzgerald kept the game scoreless.
Just over a minute later, the Blue Devils came right down the field to make it a 1-0 game. Senior Mike Grella found Molinar with a nice pass to the left side of the penalty box. Molinar’s strike on net was pushed away by Goldsberry, but Bethel was there to head home the rebound for his fourth goal of the season.
Duke continued to put the pressure on the Wildcats in the final 20 minutes of the half. Unable to make that final pass and capitalize on a few more chances, Duke headed into the break with the 1-0 advantage.
“We really created some pretty good chances and got a lot of crosses in,” freshman Temi Molinar said. “We just got a little unlucky on some of the finishes. I’m pretty happy about our performance offensively tonight.”
Davidson came out of halftime with the momentum and created a dangerous chance just a few minutes into the second session. They once again were able to find some space in behind the defense with a ball over the top, but Fitzgerald was there to pick the ball off of the foot of the Wildcat attacker.
The Blue Devils responded in commanding fashion in the following minutes, as they earned four straight corner kicks and nearly scored on pair of headers. Molinar continued to give the Davidson defense fits on the left wing, making great runs into the box and serving the ball into the penalty area. Molinar found Bethel on one of those chances, but his shot was saved by Goldsberry. Another through ball from Molinar found the foot of Pak a little later in the half, however Pak’s strike sailed high of the goal.
“[Temi’s] now realizing his strengths and making use of those strengths,” said Kerr. “He’s increasing his aggressiveness in going forward and he’s gaining confidence with every game that we play because he knows he can be effective and he is being effective”
Five minutes later, Grella collected the ball at the top of the box and was able to beat his defender to the end line. Grella slipped the ball across the front of the net to Sih who punched it home for his first points of the season and an insurance goal in the 2-0 win.
Duke controlled the game offensively, outshooting Davidson 21-11, including 11-1 in the first half. The Blue Devils had 10 corner kicks and never allowed one to the Wildcats. In goal, Goldsberry made eight saves for Davidson, while Fitzgerald pulled in six stops for Duke.
The Blue Devils resume ACC play this weekend when they travel to No. 4 Maryland on Sept. 19. The game is set to kick off at 8 p.m.