RALEIGH, N.C.-For the fifth time this season Duke junior center back Sebastien Ibeagha found the back of the net as Duke outlasted NC State for a 1-0 win in ACC men's soccer action this evening at Dail Soccer Field. The Blue Devils posted their third shutout of the season and second in ACC play.
Ibeagha currently leads Duke, which improved to 4-5-1 overall and 2-2-1 in the ACC, with five goals for the year. Four of his five tallies have come from set pieces. The Wolfpack falls to 7-5-0 and 0-4-0 in ACC play with its fifth loss in six games.
"[This win] is massive for us," head coach John Kerr said. "We faced a lot of adversity last week in terms of getting ourselves out of that tough week we had. The guys' approach to training was great and the attitude they had was fantastic. The preparation for this game was outstanding so my hat is off to the players."
Duke did well to possess to the ball throughout much of the first half. Poised on the ball, the Blue Devils were able to create opportunities early in the game, but were unable to find that elusive final pass despite three early shots on goal.
The Blue Devils remained patient in looking for the open spaces and midway through the half generated a great opportunity with sophomore Riley Wolfe breaking free on the right side endline. The California native rifled a shot far post that was deflected out for a Duke corner kick.
Mather's first corner kick was put back across the endline by the Wolfpack, giving the rookie center back a second chance. Mathers' second service found the back post where Ibeagha headed it home for the 1-0 lead.
NC State came back with a couple of opportunities in the final 20 minutes, but could not find the back of the net as the Blue Devils kept their opponent off the scoreboard for the 10th time this season.
Ibeagha's goal was the first for the Blue Devils in the first half this season and sent Duke into the locker room with the 1-0 lead.
Much of the first 20 minutes of the second half were played in the midfield with neither team generating great scoring chances. The Blue Devils' defense was outstanding in neutralizing the ACC leading scorer Alex Martinez to just three shots and none on frame.
Duke's best chance came off a Sean Davis corner kick when a Mathers shot was blocked off the line by the Wolfpack. NC State came back with a vengeance in the final 10 minutes and nearly evened the score on a couple of occasions.
Moritz Steidten had the best chance for the Wolfpack as his shot was deflected off the crossbar for a corner kick. Despite being under heavy pressure in the final five minutes, Duke's defense and senior goalkeeper James Belshaw were outstanding in keeping the clean sheet.
Belshaw finished the game with four saves, including a massive one in the final minutes of action, for his second shutout of the season and 16th of his career.
Duke got strong bench play in the game with Alex Sauciuc, Jake Butwin and Matt Slotnick all contributing quality minutes for the Blue Devils. Sauciuc saw 29 minutes of action, playing in a foreign position at striker, while Butwin and Slotnick were able to spell Aguirre and Palodichuk.
"Guys like Alex Sauciuc come and he doesn't play forward, but he doesn't care," Kerr said. "He just wanted to get the job done for the team. We had guys shifting into different positions. We had Jake Butwin coming in, Matt Slotnick gave us some good minutes so we're very pleased with our group."
NC State outshot Duke 15-12 for the game and held a 7-4 edge in corner kicks.
Duke will continue its ACC schedule next Friday, Oct. 12 against No. 1 Maryland. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., at Koskinen Stadium. The game will be televised live by Regional Sports Network.
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