DURHAM, N.C.—Duke scored two goals in 44 seconds in the waning minutes of the second half to battle No. 15 Wake Forest to a 2-2 draw tonight in ACC men’s soccer action. Senior Will Donovan netted a goal on senior night, while Luis Rendon got the equalizer for the Blue Devils in the tie.
Trailing 2-0 with 4:26 left to play against a team which had allowed just 14 goals in 15 games, Duke (6-4-6, 1-3-5) never gave up and rallied back to earn the point for the tie. It marked the fifth time this season the Blue Devils had comeback after trailing in the first half. Duke is 2-0-3 when trailing at halftime this year and 1-0-5 in overtime contests.
“It shows the spirit in our team,” said head coach John Kerr. “It was senior night and we just weren’t going to give up and we thought we were hard done by in that play where [Zach Mathers] scored and we reacted in a real positive way and refused to lose. I love our team spirit.”
Wake Forest (8-3-5, 5-0-4 ACC) grabbed a lead in the 21st minute after winning a free kick 30 yards from goal. Ian Harkes stepped behind the ball and served a great ball to the back post where Sam Fink headed it back across the goal for Sean Okoli to tap in.
The Demon Deacons controlled the run of play throughout much of the first half as Duke managed just three shots in the opening 45 minutes. Overall both squads fired just seven shots in the first period with three of those coming on goal.
Much like they have done all season, the Blue Devils came out strong in the second half. After some early possession by Wake Forest, Duke started to take over and pressure the Demon Deacons’ backline.
Sophomore Zach Mathers put a scare into Wake Forest with an incredible individual effort before drawing a foul just outside the penalty area. Junior Sean Davis stepped up and nearly put the Blue Devils up 1-0 in the 61st minute as his curling free kick from 19 yards sailed just wide.
Duke continued to control the run of play and appeared on the brink of finding the back of the net. And finally in the 84th minute, it was Mathers again wreaking havoc as he beat the goalie to ball and headed it into the goal to seemingly tie the game. However, a whistle had blown to disallow the goal and keep Wake Forest up 1-0.
The Demon Deacons took advantage of the ensuing confusion from the Blue Devils and quickly made it 2-0 with 3:43 remaining in regulation. Luca Gimenez finished a Harkes cross to clinch the win many thought.
A resilient bunch all season, the Blue Devils answered right off the kickoff as junior Jack Coleman raced down the left sideline and earned a corner kick. Mathers served the corner kick low into the box and after a dummy from Rendon, Donovan stepped up on the back post to put away his first tally of the season.
Just 43 seconds later, Rendon notched his first goal as he calmly tapped in a cross from the right flank. Rookie Brody Huitema and junior Nick Palodichuk provided assists on the tying goal.
“We had some momentum going through and I really can’t remember that much from it,” Rendon said. “I remember a cross and it just came right to my feet and I just tapped it. I knew it was a huge game for us. I can’t describe it. I was so emotional because I knew it was a big goal for our team.”
Wake Forest controlled the first overtime and Duke dominated the action in the second, but neither team could score as both squads came away with another tie on the year.
The Demon Deacons held an 18-13 edge in shots. Senior goalkeeper Alex Long made three saves, while Andrew Harris had three for Wake Forest.
Duke hits the road for its final two ACC games. The Blue Devils travel to Pittsburgh next Saturday, Nov. 2 for a 7 p.m. game before closing out the season at Clemson Nov. 8.