Duke, moving to 4-1 in non-conference home games, improves to 6-7-1 overall, while Davidson falls to 6-9-1 for the year.
"The first part of the first half we were playing like a playoff team in terms of we knew that if we didn't win we could be knocked out of the tournament," head coach John Kerr said. "That's kind of the premise that we're going forward with for the rest of the season. We know every game counts and every play counts and I thought for much of the first half we did really well and created some really good opportunities and scored a great goal."
The Blue Devils controlled the run of play throughout the game, quickly moving the ball around the field looking for the open spaces in the Davidson defense. The Wildcats held a narrow 9-8 edge in shots, but Donovan finished two of his three shots in the game for the Blue Devils victory.
Davidson had the first scoring opportunity of the game in the fifth minute when Peter Paras took a chance from 20 yards out on the right side. As his strike sailed to the far upper 90, Duke senior goalkeeper James Belshaw just got a fingertip on the ball to deflect it off the crossbar to keep the game even.
Duke, dodging the early bullet, took over and three minutes later capitalized after great combination play out of the midfield. Receiving a pass on the right side with his back to goal, sophomore Riley Wolfe deftly touched the ball wide to a streaking Jack Coleman behind the Davidson defense. The sophomore defender quickly served the ball into the penalty area where Donovan was able to knock it home for his first career goal.
Both squads continued to attack throughout the first half, but neither team could find the back of the net as Duke went into halftime in front, 1-0. The first half goal was just the fifth this season for Duke and sent the Blue Devils into halftime with a lead for the second time of the year.
Duke matched the game's early intensity to start the second half and was able to stretch its lead to 2-0 in the 53rd minute. After creating a few chances in the first couple of minutes, Donovan again took advantage of an opening in the penalty area to post his second goal of the game. Mathers provided the assist as he beat a Davidson defender and slotted the ball across the box. With a wide open net in front of him, the native of Jamaica Plain, Mass., calmly put it in to ice the victory.
"It was another great finish by Will Donovan," Kerr said. "We're very proud of him because he's been working very hard at his game and it's going to be great for his confidence."
Looking for the sixth shutout of the season, the Blue Devils buckled down on defense in keeping Davidson off the scoreboard. The Wildcats generated five shots in the final 45 minutes, but could not get past the stalwart backline and Belshaw.
Belshaw picked up six saves in his fifth shutout of the year and 18th his career. Matt Pacifici had three saves in 90 minutes of action for Davidson.
The Blue Devils hit the road for their next two contests. Duke closes its ACC regular season schedule at Virginia Tech Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. The final road game comes at Elon Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.