Duke goalkeeper James Belshaw recorded his third straight clean sheet against Wake Forest and has kept opponents scoreless for 322:45. But as the Blue Devils failed to maintain possession, they were unable to give him the support he needed for the win.
The Blue Devils (3-3-1, 1-1-1 in the ACC) picked up a point on the road Sunday after battling to a 0-0 draw with the No. 16 Demon Deacons (4-1-3, 0-0-3).
“They’ve got a lot of speed and some really talented midfielders,” Duke head coach John Kerr said. “We did a great job. Getting a result like that is like getting a win at home.”
Belshaw posted eight saves on the day to keep Wake Forest off the scoreboard. His stellar play and leadership anchored a sturdy defensive unit.
“James was immense,” Kerr said. “He’s such a smart goalkeeper. He communicates really well with the back four in front of him and makes sure everyone is doing their job. He’s very astute at understanding what to do out there, and it’s such a comforting feeling for the back four to have his voice and his presence behind them. We did a really nice job defensively.”
The Demon Deacons edged the Blue Devils 17-7 in shots and 12-2 in corner kicks. Wake Forest had most of the possession, Kerr said.
After 90 minutes of regulation play, Duke headed to overtime for the first time this season. Both teams took two shots in the first overtime period, but none of them were able to find the back of the net.
The second extra session largely lacked action until the last 30 seconds. The Demon Deacons had a chance to secure the victory in the game’s waning moments when senior Anthony Arena headed the ball, but his shot ricocheted off the right post.
In the first 30 minutes of the game, the majority of play took place in the midfield. In the final 15 minutes of the first half, however, Wake Forest began to control the tempo, generating a quality scoring opportunity in the 32nd minute when junior Luca Gimenez fired a shot just off Belshaw’s hand into the crossbar.
The Demon Deacons continued to dominate possession in the second half, but the Blue Devils countered with organized defense to hold them scoreless. Nine minutes into the frame, Duke sophomore Sean Davis nearly gave the Blue Devils the lead with a left-footed strike that Wake Forest goalkeeper Michael Lisch deflected right off the goal. Eleven minutes later, Demon Deacon freshman Collin Martin maneuvered through the Duke defense and rocketed a low shot, but Belshaw was quick to get on the ground and knock it away from the goal.
In the 79th minute, Belshaw recorded his sixth save of the night after Gimenez set up junior Ross Tomaselli inside the penalty box for a point-blank shot. Just over a minute later, junior Jared Watts took a diving header, but Belshaw blocked it for his seventh and final regulation save.
Even though Belshaw was able to keep the Demon Deacons off the scoreboard, the Blue Devils’ failure to maintain possession and create scoring chances ultimately kept Duke from going home with the win.
“Our transition ball was pretty good, but our final ball wasn’t good enough,” Kerr said. “We’d win the ball in our own half, get it to the front guys and then when we tried to enter the final third our last pass wasn’t as effective as it needed to be. We struggled in that area, giving the possession back to them. That was the story for most of the game.”