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Men's Soccer Battles To Scoreless Draw At No. 1 Wake Forest
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 10/18/2008
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Brendan Fitzgerald made four saves to shut out Wake Forest for the first time in almost a year.
Photo Courtesy: Duke Photography
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.— Duke University battled top-ranked and unbeaten Wake Forest to a 0-0 double overtime draw this evening in ACC men’s soccer action. The tie stops the Demon Deacon’s 18-game win streak and marks the first time they were shut out in 25 games dating back to Oct. 27, 2007.

Duke moves to 6-5-2 overall and 2-2-2 in the ACC. No longer perfect, Wake Forest is now 13-0-1 and 4-0-1 against conference foes.

“We played very well considering we were playing against the best team in the country,” head coach John Kerr said. “They are very talented and are so organized. They move well, but we were very resilient in our defense tonight.”

The Demon Deacons attacked right off the opening whistle, forcing Duke goalkeeper Brendan Fitzgerald to make a pair of saves in the opening two minutes. A few minutes later, Corben Bone got loose and hit the crossbar.
Unfazed by the early pressure, Duke came right back and got a shot on net from Mike Grella and started to get into a rhythm on both offense and defense. The Blue Devils were able to generate a few more good looks at net in the half and, most importantly, they stifled the top scoring offense in the nation.

Shots were hard to come by for both squads in the first frame. Despite averaging nearly 19 shots per game, Wake Forest was held to just four in the first half by Duke’s defense. The Blue Devils had three chances and forced goalie Akira Fitzgerald to make two stops. Brendan Fitzgerald had two saves in the first half as well.

“Brendan played really well and our defense was resilient and really tough to break down,” Kerr said. “Our defensive pressure was fantastic and we executed our game plan perfectly. We really were a little bit unlucky not to get a goal.”

Wake Forest came out in the second half and put more pressure on the Blue Devils. Looking for that go ahead goal, the Demon Deacons pushed the pace but were unable to break down the Blue Devils to take the lead.

They came knocking on the door late in the game when a slotted ball went across the face of the goal. However, there was no Wake Forest there to touch the ball home and Brendan Fitzgerald scooped the ball up. Both teams had chances and corner kicks in the final five minutes but were unable to capitalize.

After 90 scoreless minutes, the Blue Devils and Demon Deacons looked to decide the game in two 10-minute overtime periods. Wake Forest created the first good opportunity as Zack Schilawski got open inside the penalty area. His point-blank shot from the left side of the net was turned away perfectly by Fitzgerald and the Duke defense cleared it out of danger to force a second overtime.

Duke had the better chances in the second session as it nearly came away with the upset win in the closing minutes. Grella and sophomore Cole Grossman were able to combine on a counter attack with about three minutes left, but Grossman’s shot slid just wide left of the net.

The Blue Devils had two more golden opportunities in the final 30 seconds. Grella received the ball deep in Wake Forest’s defensive third and got into the box. He cut the ball back to his left foot and tried to sneak a shot past the near post, but Akira Fitzgerald was there to touch it over the endline.

With just 18 ticks left in the game, Grossman took the corner kick. After the ball bounced around in the penalty area, Pavelid Castaneda rifled a shot just over the crossbar to end the game in a scoreless tie.

“We’re certainly going to gain a lot of confidence after a result like this one,” Kerr said. “It was a great test of our character after losing two straight at home and to go away against the best team in the nation and get a result is great for us.”