After a shaky start to the season, the Blue Devils have finally made it back to .500, and they stayed there with a 0-0 draw against No. 25 Wake Forest last weekend.
But Tuesday’s match against UNC Wilmington will involve Duke (3-3-1) looking to achieve something that it has yet to do all season—win on the road. The two teams will play at UNCW Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
This may be the team’s chance to improve on the road as two of the three teams Duke has already faced away from home were ranked opponents. After beginning the year 0-2, the Blue Devils are now 2-0-1 in their last three games.
Although Duke started this turnaround through an offense explosion behind the likes of junior Sebastien Ibeagha, the staple of the team lately has been its stellar defense. Senior goalkeeper James Belshaw has logged three straight shutouts, and certainly has the opportunity to keep the streak alive against an average UNC Wilmington offense. In the Blue Devils’ tie against the Demon Deacons on the road Friday, Belshaw kept Wake Forest off the board with an eight-save performance.
The defense has been thriving thanks to Belshaw’s performances and will look to continue its success as the offense hopes to regain the firepower it displayed in its 2-0 victory against Clemson.
The Seahawks enter the matchup aiming to rebound from a 2-0 loss to George Mason in which they could never find their offensive groove.
UNC Wilmington (2-5-1) comes into the contest looking for a signature win against an ACC team before diving into conference play. The Seahawks enter the match with a balanced attack, featuring three players having already scored at least two goals this season. UNC Wilmington has been particularly potent late in games, as they have scored six goals this season in the second half, compared to just three in the first half. This may present problems for the Blue Devils defensively—four of the five goals Duke has surrendered have come in the second half.
The Blue Devils’ success has also caught the attention of fans. The team nearly tripled their attendance between their games against Georgia State and Clemson, with the latter contest bringing in over 1,100 fans. This type of excitement—and the momentum of a win against a non-conference opponent—could be exactly what the team needs with a rival coming to town Friday when No. 8 North Carolina comes to Koskinen Stadium.