In the last non-conference game of the season, Duke aimed to coast to an easy win and set itself up for the postseason.

The game turned out to be more of a struggle than expected, but the Blue Devils still managed to come away with a win.

No. 18 Duke beat Delaware 2-1 Tuesday night at Koskinen Stadium in its penultimate regular-season game. The Blue Devils were paced by goals from freshman Daniel Wright and sophomore Daniele Proch and largely stifled the Blue Hens offensively, but Duke also failed to convert on a number of chances.

“We wanted to get the win, first and foremost,” Blue Devil head coach John Kerr said. “We wanted to make sure that we finished strong here at Koskinen in the nonconference, which we did.”

The game got off to a perfect start for Duke (11-3-2). In the second minute, a Blue Devil cross found its way through a thicket of defenders to Wright at the far edge of the box. The freshman broke down his defender before firing a shot from a tight angle. The shot deflected off a defender and found its way into the far side netting to give Duke an early lead.

The Blue Devils almost doubled their lead in the 10th minute off a centering pass from Proch to Brian White, but a Delaware defender recovered in time to block the forward’s point-blank shot wide.

Despite being dominated in the run of play, the Blue Hens (5-6-4) managed to tie things up in the 22nd minute when a cross from midfielder Matt Baquero hit Duke captain Markus Fjørtoft in the arm, and the referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot. From there, Thibault Phillipe sent goalkeeper Will Pulisic the wrong way, finishing into the bottom right corner. 

The Blue Devils then embarked on a stretch of dominant play, setting up shop in the Delaware half, and it immediately paid dividends in the 25th minute when a superb pass put Brian White in on goal. The senior forward waited too long to shoot, allowing a defender to recover and block his shot, but the rebound carried over the goalkeeper to the far post, where Proch headed it into a wide-open net.

“We’ve done really well this season once we’ve got scored on,” Kerr said. “The reaction has been really good, either we’ve got mad or frustrated and decided we can turn it up a notch. That was a real positive for us to bounce back quickly kind of like we did against Georgetown. That’s a good sign, but I was hoping to add a few more goals in the second half.”

Duke entered the halftime locker room with an 11-6 advantage in shots and an 8-2 lead in corners. However, it only took a 2-1 lead into the break due to several miraculous blocks from the Blue Hens and poor finishing on several clear-cut chances.

The second half was a slow affair, with neither team creating much offense. The Blue Devils struggled to reestablish the strong midfield play they had shown in the first half.

Delaware had the best chance of the half right after halftime in the 47th minute when, after the Duke gave the ball away in its own half, a through ball put midfielder Chad Poarch in on goal. He cut back to evade Fjørtoft’s desperate challenge and shot, but Pulisic pushed it wide to clear the danger. 

“We were trying to put ourselves with our front foot forward and accelerate a bit and try to cause a bit more commotion offensively,” Kerr said. “Fair play to them, they did a good job thwarting our offense and counterattacked us pretty well.”

The Blue Devils will be disappointed with how they finished the game, but do not have much time to prepare for the final game of the regular season. No. 13 Virginia will come to Koskinen Stadium Friday on Senior Night.