Grossman tallied his ninth and 10th goals of the season just six minutes apart in the second half to push Duke past a tough Coastal Carolina squad. The Blue Devils improve to 10-5-4 overall and 29-22-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament action.
"I thought we played fantastic tonight," head coach John Kerr said. "They scored kind of against the run of play. It was a good goal mind you, but we were resilient tonight. We recovered well. We kept pressing them. We kept attacking and we were unlucky to not get a goal before halftime."
Duke came out strong to start the game, controlling the majority of possession and creating its fair share of chances on goal. Despite the Blue Devils early offense threats, it was Coastal Carolina that broke through with the first goal of the contest.
The Chanticleers collected a ball after a blocked shot and went on a quick counter attack. Kristoffer Sandtroen served in a well-placed ball to the back post where Ross Kelly was able to head it back to the opposite corner for a 1-0 Coastal Carolina lead in the 23rd minute.
Trailing by a goal, the Blue Devils continued to hold possession and outshot the Chanticleers 10-2 in the final 22 minutes of the opening half. Grossman nearly evened the score in 30th minute as he bent a free kick from 18 yards around the wall to the far post, but Coastal Carolina goalkeeper Scott Angevine did great to get his hand on the shot and push it wide of the goal post.
Under pressure for much of the final 15 minutes of the first half, the Chanticleers defense bent, but did not break as they took a 1-0 lead into halftime.
"At halftime I told them how happy I was with their performance in the first half and we came out in the second half with some real pride and some real energy," Kerr said." We knew it wasn't going to be easy. Coach [Shaun] Docking has a well-coached team and they are well disciplined and have some very good players. We just said we were going to go for it and we worked the angles right, got some players forward, got into the box and we had some great service. I thought Cole [Grossman] did great tonight on those two finishes."
The second half proved to be the same story. The Duke backline was outstanding in not allowing a single shot in the second half, while the Blue Devils offense peppered the Coastal Carolina defense with nine goals.
After numerous close calls, Grossman finally broke through for Duke with a free kick just on top of the 18-yard box. The native of St. Louis, Mo., stepped up to the ball and whipped it with his right foot around the wall and past the near post to even the score.
Just 6:22 later, he struck again. This time it was freshman midfielder Jonathan Aguirre serving an outstanding through ball to Grossman who got in behind the Chanticleer defense. He calmly collected the ball and slipped it past Angevine who was forced to come off his line.
"When you score a go-ahead goal like that it's just excitement for me," Grossman said. "It is just fun. This game is fun. College soccer is fun and it was a great atmosphere. Not so much relief, just kind of excitement and joy. This is why you come to Duke to play sports, this kind of game."
Duke held a 22-3 overall advantage in shots for the game and had five corner kicks to Coastal Carolina's zero. Angevine finished with four saves, while James Belshaw had none for Duke. The win marked the first time this season Duke has come back to win from a halftime deficit. The Blue Devils are now 8-1-2 at home this season and 20-2-2 in the past two seasons combined.
Duke will travel to Columbia, S.C., for second round action. Kickoff at Stone Stadium is set for 2 p.m.