DURHAM, N.C.-Santa Clara scored a pair of unanswered goals in a three-minute span to earn a 2-1 victory over Duke in the John Rennie Nike Invitational this evening at Koskinen Stadium. Junior Sebastien Ibeagha had the goal for the Blue Devils.
Duke (0-1-0) and Santa Clara (1-1-0) shared possession in the first half with the Blue Devils creating a few quality opportunities. Unable to connect on any of the six shots, Duke headed into the locker room in a scoreless draw. Sophomore Nick Palodichuk had Duke's first early look on goal as his strike was saved by Santa Clara goalie Larry Jackson. The Blue Devils held a 6-3 advantage in shots after 45 minutes of play.
"We were second to the ball in the second half and weren't sharp enough," head coach John Kerr said. "At the end of the first half we got on top a little bit more. We gave possession away early in the first half too easily and in the second had we kept it a little bit more."
In search of their first goal of the game, Duke started to press forward in the second half. Controlling the run of play in the first 10 minutes, Duke earned a free kick from 25 yards out on the left side of the penalty area in the 56th minute. Sophomore Sean Davis stepped up and served a prefect ball to the far post where Ibeagha leaped over Broncos defenders to head it past Jackson for the 1-0 lead.
Duke continued to hold the majority of possession before a flurry of action in the 71st minute in the Duke penalty box led to a Santa Clara penalty kick. Erik Hurtado buried the penalty shot to the right side, evening the score with 19:17 left to play.
"It's a very cruel way to allow them back in the game, because at the time we were on top and dominating," Kerr said. "The second half I thought we were on top of them most of the game until we allowed an unfortunate goal and then they scored a second."
Less than three minutes later, the Broncos got on the board after earning a corner kick. Wes Culver served the initial ball where Carol Montes dummies it to Ryan Masch who hits a perfect strike into the right corner for a 2-1 edge.
The Blue Devils never gave up and pushed forward in the final minutes. Davis nearly tied the game for the Duke in the 81st minute. The sophomore midfielder took the ball from midfield and ripped a shot from 20 yards off the crossbar. Palodichuk had an excellent chance in the final minutes, but was unable to connect as Duke lost the one-goal contest.
Duke outshot Santa Clara 15-9 for the game and had a 5-4 edge in corner kicks. James Belshaw made four saves in the game, including a few crucial stops in the second half. Jackson finished the game with eight stops.
"I thought we created a lot of opportunities and didn't finish some of them," Kerr said. "Sean [Davis] was unlucky on that great shot from distance that hit the crossbar."
The Blue Devils return to action in the finale of the John Rennie Nike Invitational versus Delaware on Sept. 2 at 2:30 p.m.
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