It wasn’t pretty at the beginning, but Duke pulled things together in the second half to earn its first win of the year.
The Blue Devils defeated Stetson 8-2 Sunday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium thanks to an offense that exploded for seven goals in the second half and erased a 2-1 halftime deficit. With the victory, as well as a tie against Loyola Marymount on Friday, Duke won the John Rennie/Nike Invitational.
“It’s great to see it all come together,” senior midfielder Sean Davis said. “We put so much work into the preseason, the guys have worked really hard, and so I think this is a great reward for us. We were definitely tested, we had two great matches that really pushed us and I’m glad to see us come through.”
Despite the final score, the game was still hanging in the balance for much of the match. The Blue Devils (1-0-1) jumped out to an early lead, scoring off a corner kick in the 10th minute. Davis—who was named the tournament’s MVP—took the corner from the left side and played it near the front post, where freshman Cameron Moseley used his 6-foot-4 frame to emerge from the scuffle and give Duke a 1-0 advantage.
“Sean put in a great corner and the keeper bobbled it,” Moseley said. “The ball dropped to my feet and my eyes got as big as possible. That’s when I kicked it as hard as I could, and it bounded over the line.”
The Blue Devils continued to attack well early on—racking up eight shots in the opening period—but were unable to pad their lead despite a multitude of chances. The Hatters (1-1-0) took advantage, drawing even in the 29th minute when freshman Jared Huber slid a shot past Duke goalkeeper Joe Ohaus for his second goal in as many games.
Stetson continued to capitalize on its chances, jumping ahead 2-1 with less than four minutes remaining in the first half on sophomore David Caulfield’s volley from well outside the 18-yard box. It was only the Hatters’ second shot of the half, but both shots found the back of the net and that was enough to give Stetson the lead heading into the locker room.
The Blue Devils wasted little time coming out of the break, evening the score at 2-2 in the 50th minute when Moseley poured in his second goal of the afternoon. Moseley—inserted into the starting lineup Sunday after coming off the bench in the season opener—received a through ball near the top of the box from Davis and knocked it past goalkeeper Paul Ladwig, who came out of the net to challenge the shot.
“[Getting the start] meant the world to me,” Moseley said. “Just having the coaches trust me, and the belief that I can contribute to the team in the best way possible. I believe that today I proved it.”
But the Duke offense was far from finished. The Blue Devils took the lead for good in the 59th minute when sophomore Seo-in Kim fired a shot from the right side of the box that found its way into the corner of the net to put Duke up 3-2. Kim—who came off the bench in the 27th minute after starting Friday—struck again later in the half to provide the Blue Devils some insurance and extend their lead to 4-2. Senior midfielder Nick Palodichuk earned the assist on the play, sending a long cross into the box that Kim volleyed in for the score.
“[Scoring two goals] was great,” Kim said. “First and foremost, I’m just proud of my team that we could come back. I just have to be ready. Whenever I’m in there, I have to contribute, so I was happy with that [today].”
Duke was off to the races from there, scoring four more goals—one apiece from Brody Huitema, Matt Slotnick, Macario Hing-Glover and Bryson Asher—in the final 20 minutes to reach the final margin of 8-2.
The Blue Devils had 16 players who played at least 20 minutes and had six different goal-scorers on the day, highlighting a very deep and talented roster that returns 84 percent of its scoring from a season ago, in addition to a well-regarded freshman class.
Head coach John Kerr was quick to point out the importance of receiving contributions from up and down the roster, and is excited to see it develop even further as the season progresses.
“It’s pleasing because if somebody is having an off game, we can bring somebody else on to keep the level [of play] and the momentum and the energy high,” Kerr said. “We still have some things to iron out, but it’s a young team with some really good veteran leadership. If we can keep our composure and keep working, we’re going to be dangerous this year. We scored a lot of goals from a lot of different angles, and that was very pleasing to see.”