Junior midfielder Chris Tweed-Kent created chances for Ryan Finley time and again in the second half against Boston College. But when the sophomore striker couldn’t find the back of the net, the distributor took matters into his own hands.
Tweed-Kent scored the game’s only goal off a deflection, giving the No. 11 Blue Devils a 1-0 victory over the No. 10 Eagles Friday night at Koskinen Stadium.
Duke (4-1-2, 1-1-1 in the ACC) captured its first ACC win and moved into a tie for third place in the conference standings. Head coach John Kerr lauded the Blue Devils for the way they responded to the pressure at this critical juncture in the season.
“It was a must-win for us tonight,” Kerr said. “We had two previous [ACC] home games, and this was our third in a row, and we wanted to come out tonight with a victory. In the second half you could tell that we were hungrier, we were fitter and we were stronger, and we deserved the win.”
In the first half, however, the Blue Devils could not crack a Boston College defense that had allowed only three goals in six games before Friday. Offensive chances were few and far between for both sides, but the Eagles (4-1-2, 0-1-1) produced the most dangerous scoring opportunities.
In the 11th minute, Boston College striker Charlie Rugg outmaneuvered center back Sebastien Ibeagha and won control of a long ball just outside the top of the box. But Rugg played the ball too far ahead, and sophomore goalkeeper James Belshaw charged forward to make a sliding, one-on-one save.
Duke struggled to bring men forward throughout the first half and only mustered two shots on goal. The Eagles’ defense harried sophomore striker Ryan Finley, who entered Friday’s game as the top scorer in the nation. Finley, sometimes visibly frustrated by Boston College’s physical play, never found enough space to release a quality strike.
Entering halftime with the score level at 0-0, the Blue Devils employed a tactical change in order to generate some offense.
“We made a few adjustments,” Kerr said. “We brought our players, in particular Cole Grossman, a little bit further up the field, and he made a great difference in our attacking play.”
Duke was especially dangerous up the left sideline coming out of the locker room. Midfielder Chris Tweed-Kent was able to run down the wing in open space and fed Finley a steady diet of through balls throughout the half.
Despite the ample service from the midfield, Finley found himself out of position numerous times. Even though he was involved in the majority of the 11 offside violations called against the Blue Devils during the game, Finley posed much more of a threat in the box after intermission, launching eight of Duke’s 12 second-half shots.
But the one shot that turned the tide of the game did not come from the boot of the Blue Devils’ leading scorer. Senior midfielder Grossman initiated the crucial sequence in the 83rd minute when he played a through ball to junior Temi Molinar on the right edge of the box. Luthy came off his line to punch away Molinar’s cross, and the ball deflected off Finley before Tweed-Kent finally buried it in the goal from six yards out.
“We just had a lot of numbers around the box, which is always good,” Tweed-Kent said. “Cole found it and slotted just an unbelievable ball to Temi who whipped the ball around really quickly… and I was able to find the corner on it.”
Boston College almost equalized with a little more than four minutes remaining when Sacir Hot got his foot on a cross directly front of Belshaw. But the keeper preserved the victory by making a point-blank save.
“I feel like we matched them physically and definitely outmatched them energy-wise, which is key to a victory,” Tweed-Kent said. “As the game went on we were wearing them down. We knew [a goal] was going to come. It was just a matter of when.”