After being shut out in its first scrimmage, Duke’s offense exploded against Old Dominion, defeating the Monarchs 4-2 in its final exhibition game before opening the 2013 season.
The Blue Devils, who only scored 20 goals last season in 18 games, were supported by four different goal scorers, including two freshmen. Forwards Brody Huitema and Seo-In Kim were each credited with a goal and an assist during their first collegiate game as teammates.
Huitema, a member of the U18 Canadian National Team, played in COTIF U20 tournament in Spain before arriving in Durham the day of the exhibition match. Huitema had never played with his new Duke teammates before the Blue Devils’ victory against Old Dominion, and although it appeared he was adjusting throughout the game, the freshman forward showed flashes of brilliance as he settled in.
“The recruiting class that’s coming in is huge for us,” Duke head coach John Kerr said. “I think this season we’re really focused on getting goals from more guys on the field. [Huitema] will add a new dimension to the team, and he’ll finish off a lot of chances we’ve created in the past and will create in the future. [Kim] has also done a really good job.”
Both Huitema and Kim present new attacking options for a Duke team that was second-to-last in the ACC in scoring last season. Despite graduating only one senior, goaltender James Belshaw, the Blue Devils have completely transformed their offense since last season.
“If we’re honest with ourselves, our offense was a big weakness for us last year,” junior midfielder Sean Davis said. “We didn’t score a lot of goals, but I think in the offseason we really put a lot of time and effort into finding out different ways to score and different ways to get goals.”
Huitema and Kim joined sophomore forward Luis Rendon and Davis as the scrimmage’s goal scorers. Rendon tied the game at one goal apiece in the 21st minute, only to have Old Dominion freshman midfielder Ryan Condotta respond thirty seconds later with a goal of his own. But Kim gave the game back to Duke with a powerful goal from 20 yards away, finding a small opening in the upper-right corner of the net to bring the ball past Monarch goaltender Sean Stowe.
“It was a firecracker, wasn’t it?” Kerr said in an interview with GoDuke.com. “I think his attitude toward the game is beautiful, and he has the right instincts, and I’m really happy for him.”
With a successful free kick from Davis followed by Huitema’s first collegiate goal, the Blue Devils never looked back.
“It’s a very exciting prospect because we can attack from all different angles,” Kerr said. “I feel that we’re going to be a lot more dangerous this year than we were last year.”
Huitema and Kim may be Duke’s newest offensive weapons, but Kerr spent the offseason shifting around some of the players already at his disposal. Davis will be utilized as a scoring threat in the midfield after being the team’s primary distributor last season. Sophomore Zach Mathers will spend more time playing forward this season, with Rendon and junior forward Matt Slotnick playing bigger roles up front as well. Junior midfielder Nick Palodichuk is returning from an injury-plagued sophomore season in which he had two ankle surgeries in the span of 18 months.
“We have more options and more variables [this season],” Kerr said. “I feel a lot better going into this season than last season. I think you’ll see a big difference going forward.”
Duke will open its regular season Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Rutgers in the Duke Nike Classic at Koskinen Stadium.