After finishing last preseason with a 1-0-1 record, Duke made sure to emphasize the importance of its exhibition this year. So far, the results have been promising.
The Blue Devils defeated Radford Tuesday at Koskinen Stadium, as they completed their first shutout of the preseason in a resounding 3-0 victory. The win pushed Duke to a 2-0 ledger in exhibition play after a 6-1 victory Saturday against Old Dominion kicked off the season.
"Radford was a great test for us tonight," Duke head coach John Kerr said. "They’re a great team with a lot of spirit and aggressiveness. We’re going to face teams like that this season and it was a really good test for us to stand our ground and move the ball and be dynamic and build some coordination we have to have with our midfield and up front."
Senior captain Sean Davis made sure Duke got on the board first, as the midfielder broke the scoreless tie in the first period on his only shot of the game.
Davis' sole shot attempt came on a free kick in the 37th minute of Tuesday's contest. Lined up several yards outside of the left post and roughly 25 yards away, Davis bent a shot past Radford goalkeeper Kolby Johnson, hitting the top right corner of the net to break open the scoring for the Blue Devils.
His goal would be the only action of the first half, with the second half substitutes taking over the scoring. Freshman Brian White netted his first goal as a Blue Devil in the 55th minute off an assist from fellow rookie Cameron Moseley.
Senior captain James Butwin capped the scoring in the final seconds of regulation, netting a goal with three seconds remaining in a one-on-one breakaway goal to push the Duke lead to 3-0.
"The second group was even more impressive because they’re coming in being substitutes and made a big difference," Kerr said. "They made a big difference in that Old Dominion game and they made a big difference tonight."
After the second of three exhibition games, Duke has outscored its opponents 9-1 and seems poised to improve upon last year's 9-5-8 record. One step the Blue Devils have made is in their scheduling of the preseason games, as the Saturday-Tuesday format lines up with how the regular season will be played.
"This is a midweek game, something we’re going to face throughout the season," Davis said. "It’s important to come back off of a great win and ride that momentum throughout the week. For the guys to come in here and take care of business was a great step going forward."
Alhough the score was to Duke's liking, there were still several minute details that Kerr was able to point to after the game, as the Blue Devils allowed several close calls for Highlanders throughout the contest.
Radford tallied seven shots to Duke's 17 but managed to beat them on corner kicks 7-2, allowing it to keep the contest within striking distance.
"The communication in the backfield, make sure that we’re shifting quickly," Kerr said. "But overall I thought performance was excellent. I’m very pleased with how we’re progressing."
Aside from the corners and close calls, the successful turnaround and aggressive style of play that the Blue Devils featured—Duke tallied a red and yellow card Tuesday—is an encouraging sign for the squad moving forward, as it has one remaining preseason contest before the regular season kicks off.
"We’ve really come in here with a great spirit," Davis said. "Everyone’s really committed. We got here earlier than we’ve ever been here and it’s just been the group trying to get together and familiarize itself with everything we’re going to face going forward."
Duke will take on the College of Charleston Friday at 7 p.m. at Koskinen Stadium to conclude exhibition play.