Off a corner kick from Duke junior Sean Davis, senior Sebastian Ibeagha buried a header in the back of the net with 10 minutes remaining to propel Duke to a 2-1 victory against Wright State at Koskinen Stadium on Tuesday night, marking the fourth straight game decided in the 75th minute or later.
“I made my run, saw the ball in the air, went up and just connected with it,” Ibeagha said.
Duke amassed 10 corner kicks in the second half, creating opportunity after opportunity for its high-powered offense.
“On Monday, all we did was practice our set pieces,” Ibeagha said. “This is what we’ve been working on.”
In their first-ever meeting with the Raiders (1-4-1), the Blue Devils (4-2-2) got off to a rocky start, a common theme throughout the season. They conceded an early goal to Wright State senior forward Brett Elder, who took a through ball off the right wing and chipped it right over goalkeeper Alex Long’s head in a one-on-one situation.
“We had to dig ourselves out of a hole to start the game,” head coach John Kerr said. “They really stepped up their game against us and caused us fits.”
In a very aggressive first half, Duke and Wright State combined for 22 fouls and 3 yellow cards. The Raiders have a reputation for physical play, registering 93 fouls in just six games.
In a scary moment for the Blue Devils, Duke freshman Brody Huitema collided heads with Wright State defender Jacob Stovall in the 24th minute. Stovall was able to walk away, but Huitema cringed on the ground for a few minutes while being examined by the training staff. Fortunately, a thick headband made from athletic tape and a clean jersey were the only treatments the freshman required, and he returned to the game at the end of the first half.
Huitema’s return would turn out to be pivotal for Duke. Creating a golden goal against Davidson together last week, the duo of Huitema and fellow freshman Seo-In Kim came up big again when Kim had a corner kick that resulted in a laser header from Hutiema to tie the game in the 69th minute.
“At times in the first half, we didn’t take advantage of some spots that we could have exploited,” Kerr said. “We did a lot better in the second half, creating what felt like 50 corners."
Despite letting up the 11th-minute goal, the Blue Devils controlled possession throughout the game. In fact, Duke didn’t even allow Wright State a single shot between the 27th and 64th minutes.
“We just stepped it up in terms of our speed of play, our attacking, going forward, and making openings for ourselves,” Kerr said.