DURHAM, N.C.—Duke University junior Sean Davis scored twice as the Blue Devils erupted for three second-half goals in a 3-0 shutout win over Southern Conference rival Elon in non-conference men’s soccer action this evening. The Blue Devils push their unbeaten streak to five games.
Freshman Brody Huitema added the third goal for Duke (6-4-5) and junior Nick Palodichuk provided an assist on two of the tallies. The clean sheet was the sixth of the year for the Blue Devils as Duke’s stalwart defense of Sebastien Ibeagha, Zach Mathers, Rob Dolot, Will Donovan and goalkeeper Alex Long held the Phoenix to just three shots over the 90 minutes.
Duke stretches its shutout streak to 180 minutes and has allowed just one goal in the previous 510 minutes of action. Offensively, the Blue Devils registered three goals in regulation for the first time this season to post the convincing win.
After a forgettable opening 45 minutes in which the Blue Devils and Elon (10-4-1) managed just one shot apiece, Duke jumped all over the Phoenix with two goals in the first 2:10 of the second half.
“I told them [in the locker room at halftime] that the season is on the line here,” said head coach John Kerr. “Our energy level wasn’t as high as we wanted it to be. Fair play to the boys they stepped it up and jumped on Elon in the first couple minutes of the second half.”
Duke, understanding the importance of coming away with a victory, needed just 25 seconds to get on the board. After a quick build-up off the opening whistle and a quick layoff from Palodichuk, Davis struck the ball perfectly from 20 yards into the right upper 90 for his fourth tally of the year.
“We weren’t happy with the first-half performance so we really wanted to push the tempo,” Davis aid. “It was a great build-up. Nick Palodichuk laid it off perfectly for me about 20 yards out. I was able to hit it perfectly and get it over the goalie. I think that kick-started the half and we kind of cruised the rest of the way through.”
Less than two minutes later, Huitema netted his sixth goal of the year with a header on a Palodichuk corner kick. The score was the rookie’s first since Oct. 1 and gave the Blue Devils the 2-0 advantage with 42:50 left to play.
With the Blue Devils in control of the game, Elon tried to get its offense going and started to look dangerous. However, Duke’s backline remained organized and steady in not allowing the Phoenix a clear shot on goal. The game was the first that Duke had not allowed a shot on goal this season.
Duke continued to play at a high tempo and push forward and attack the Elon defense. The pressure paid off for the Blue Devils in the 81st minute with a handball by the Phoenix in its penalty area resulting in a penalty kick. Davis calmly stepped up and buried the shot for his second score of the game and a 3-0 Duke lead.
Overall, the Blue Devils had just nine shots in the game. Dean finished with one save in 90 minutes of action, while Long was not forced to make a stop.
Duke closes out its regular season home schedule with No. 15 Wake Forest Friday night at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live by NSCAATV and will be the final regular season home contest for the group of 11 seniors.