DURHAM, N.C. - Duke (4-2-0) pulled out a hard-fought 2-1 victory over South Carolina (4-3-0) on Wednesday night in Koskinen Stadium. The Blue Devils outshot the Gamecocks 29-9, but it came down to a converted penalty kick by junior forward Mike Grella with 10:58 remaining in the game that sealed the deal for Duke.
It was a similar feeling for the Blue Devils throughout most of the match. As with every game this season, the Duke was outshooting and outplaying their opponent, especially in the second half. However, the Blue Devils found themselves not in the lead, but tied with South Carolina late in the game.
With 11 minutes remaining, Grella made a move into the goal box with the ball. He was taken down by two Gamecock defenders and a penalty kick was immediately awarded. Grella took a low, hard shot towards the lower left corner that just escaped the reach of South Carolina’s freshman goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. It was Grella’s fourth goal of 2007.
Duke dominated offensively, forcing Maurer to tie his season-high and make 10 saves on the night, and defensively, allowing only three shots on goal for South Carolina. Senior goalkeeper Justin Papadakis made two saves in the game. He and the Blue Devil defense together have only allowed three goals in 524:28 over six games. Papadakis now has a .824 save percentage and a 0.51 goals-against-average.
The first goal of the game came less than seven minutes in, as senior forward Paul Dudley scored his fourth goal of the year on a header in front of the goal. The play started when junior defender Darrius Barnes played a long ball from the right side of the field into the box, which Grella headed toward the goal. The ball caromed off the crossbar to Dudley who used his head to put it away.
Duke would continue on the attack, but it was South Carolina who would strike next with 19:50 left in the first period. Sophomore forward Schuyler Reardon crossed the ball from the left side to freshman forward Sam Arthur, who had his back to the goal about eight yards out. Arthur turned to his right and made a move towards the left post, and in an instant got off a left-footed shot that found the inside of the right frame of the goal. It was Arthur’s team-leading fourth score of the season.
The game would remain tied, 1-1, through almost 54 minutes of play. The Blue Devils took shot after shot, missing the goal or forcing Maurer to make a save. Duke took 25 shots after their first goal before Grella’s penalty kick ended the drought.
Once again the Blue Devils were without senior defender and captain Tim Jepson, who has been out will a muscle pull injury in all five of the Blue Devils’ games this season. Jepson will look to make his return against Maryland or UNC Wilmington, Duke’s next two opponents.
Coach John Rennie’s record as a collegiate coach improved to 447-201-48 in 35 years. He is in fifth place all-time among NCAA Division I coaches for wins and in third place among active coaches for career wins. This will be Rennie’s final season as Duke’s head coach, a decision made prior to the 2007 season.
Duke is now 10-8-2 against South Carolina, the third-most games the team has played against any non-conference opponent other than Davidson with 55 meetings and High Point with 23 meetings.
Duke faces No. 16 Maryland on Saturday at 8 p.m., in the ACC opener for the Blue Devils. The game is in Koskinen Stadium, where admission to all regular season Duke matches is free of charge. It will also be available live and on-demand on ACCSelect.com. The Blue Devils first road contest of the season comes on Tues., Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. versus UNC Wilmington.