GREENSBORO, N.C.-UNC Greensboro scored a pair of early first-half goals and held off a strong second half performance by 23rd-ranked Duke to earn a 3-2 victory in men's soccer action in front of 2,064 fans in the season opener for both squads. Andrew Wenger netted both goals for the Blue Devils in the setback.
Duke fell behind in the early minutes of the game with a goal by Oddur Gudmundsson against the run of play. James Belshaw came off of his line and Gudmundsson was able to get a nifty final touch to just slip it past the Duke goalkeeper for the 1-0 lead in the ninth minute.
Just six minutes later the Spartans got into the box and drew a foul in the penalty area for a penalty kick. Hakan Ilhan lined up and buried the shot to give UNCG the 2-0 lead just 16 minutes into the game.
The Blue Devils started to get into a rhythm midway through the half and were able to get forward and into their final third. Christopher Tweed-Kent had the most dangerous opportunity of the first half for Duke as Wenger served an outstanding ball across the face of the goal. Tweed-Kent was unable to collect the ball as it bounced across the endline.
Duke controlled the run of play over the final 15 minutes but was unable to get on the scoreboard. Both squads finished with four shots in the first half. The Blue Devils had the lone corner kick of the opening 45 minutes.
Needing to get a goal, the Blue Devils came out attacking in the second half. Duke pressured in the early going, but again was unable to connect. And again UNCG took advantage of a quick break and got a third goal to seemingly ice the victory for the Spartans.
Wenger finally put the Blue Devils on the scoreboard with 25:59 left in the second frame. With a good piece of individual work, he got himself open on the left side of the penalty area and he calmly put the ball past UNCG goalkeeper Peyton Ford.
The junior forward made it 3-2 less than three minutes later when he buried a penalty kick low into the left corner. The two goals matches his career high set as a rookie against Presbyterian.
Wenger also had a role in drawing the penalty as he served a free kick from 30 yards out into the box. With the ball bouncing around, Christopher Tweed-Kent was brought down while trying to get a shot off, resulting in the ensuing penalty kick.
Duke continued to press forward in the final 20 minutes, but the Spartans defense was able to hold off any final Blue Devil attack and earn the 3-2 victory.
The Blue Devils outshot the Spartans 13-8, including 9-4 in the second half. Duke had the lone four corner kicks of the game.
In goal, Belshaw made one stop in the 90 minutes, while Ford had four saves for UNCG.
Duke returns to action, traveling to Furman on Monday for a 7 p.m., kickoff. The Blue Devils open their home schedule on Sept. 2 against UC Santa Barbara.