DURHAM, N.C.-Duke exploded for three second-half goals to come away with a 4-1 victory over UNC Wilmington in men's non-conference soccer action this evening at Koskinen Stadium. Junior Andrew Wenger tallied two goals and added two assists in the win, pushing his points total to 13 in the past two games.
Duke improves to 3-4-0 overall and posted its second consecutive victory and has scored nine goals in the previous two outings. Freshman Nick Palodichuk added a goal, while junior Christopher Tweed-Kent had a big night with a goal and two assists.
"We had a big of Jekyll and Hyde performance tonight," head coach John Kerr said. "We had a couple of good moments in the second half where we really turned it on and obviously scored some really good goals, but overall I thought we were average at best. Give credit to Coach [Aidan] Heaney and his groupl. They played a great game and were prepared and worked their tails off and deserved a better result."
After weathering a flurry of action early in the first half, the Blue Devils started to win more possession. Despite not creating a bevy of scoring opportunities in the opening period, Duke capitalized on a chance in the 31st minute with a Tweed-Kent goal.
Sophomore Rob Dolot found Wenger's feet on the left side of the penalty area. Wenger created just enough of an opening to serve the ball across the box to an open Tweed-Kent. The senior midfielder struck the ball perfectly, one-timing the service for his first tally of the season.
Duke took that goal and went into the locker room with a 1-0 lead at the break despite being outshot 5-3 through the first 45 minutes.
The Blue Devils saw their one-goal advantage disappear 13 minutes into the second frame when Seahawks midfielder Ettienne Boulanger ripped a shot from 12 yards out past the outstretched hands of Duke goalkeeper James Belshaw. Boulanger was assisted by a service from the left side of the box from Mark Harris.
Just over three minutes later, Wenger made his impact felt again as he provided Palodichuk with a pass right on the doorstep for the 2-1 lead. Wenger collected a throw-in from Jonathan Aguirre on the right side and knifed his way to the endline to slot the ball into the box for the goal. It was Palodichuk's second goal in as many games and third of the year.
Wenger continued to control the action, as he added two more spectacular goals to ice the victory for the Blue Devils. The first came off of a ball from Tweed-Kent down the left flank. Using his speed, the native of Lititz, Pa. beat his defender and ripped a shot past Brandon Miller for the 3-1 advantage in the 81st minutes.
"Well if we didn't have [Wenger] tonight we wouldn't have won the game for sure," Kerr said. "He was great and he created so havoc. With his pace and his guile he's very dangerous player. He saved us tonight with two goals and two assists and we're very pleased he's on our team."
Just 97 seconds later, in almost identical fashion Tweed-Kent again served a ball down the left side. After creating an opening, Wenger placed the ball into the right upper 90 with pace for his eighth goal of the year.
"We've scored nine goals in the past two games, but we've also given up three so that's definitely something we will continue to look to improve," Wenger said.
Both squads finished with 11 shots apiece, while Duke had a 7-3 advantage in corner kicks. In goal, Belshaw had six saves and Miller finished with three for the Seahawks.
The Blue Devils resume ACC play on Sept. 23 against Wake Forest. The squads kick off at 7 p.m., with live video coverage on GoDuke.com.