Despite holding a 1-0 lead late into the second half, the Duke men's soccer team lost momentum after Santa Clara evened the game with a penalty kick and ultimately fell 2-1.
Sebastien Ibeagha notched the lone Blue Devil goal, Duke's first on the season, but the team could not recover from the Broncos' late push.
“In the second half we were on top of them most of the game until we allowed them that unfortunate goal,” Duke head coach John Kerr said. “Unfortunately they took advantage of that momentum and scored a second.”
Neither team managed to score a goal in the first half, during which the Blue Devils (0-2) struggled to maintain possession of the ball.
“We were second to the ball, at least in the first half,” Kerr said. “We weren’t sharp enough. We gave away possession in the first half too easily.”
Duke came out strong in the second half, controlling the tempo of the game. In a free kick in the 56th minute, sophomore Sean Davis dished the ball to the far post, where junior Sebastien Ibeagha headed it past Bronco goalkeeper Larry Jackson to give the Blue Devils a 1-0 advantage.
The Blue Devils continued to dominate possession until the 71st minute, when Santa Clara (1-1) earned a penalty kick. Senior Erik Hurtado found the back of the net, evening the score 1-1.
“It was a very cruel way to allow them back into the game because at the time, we were on top and dominating,” Kerr said. “[Hurtado] was their big-time player who caused a lot of problems. That was their go-to guy.”
Fewer than three minutes later, the Broncos took a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game. On a corner kick opportunity, senior Wes Culver served the ball to junior Carlos Montes, who set up freshman Ryan Masch’s perfect strike from 18 yards into the right corner of the net.
Duke pushed forward, continuing to generate scoring opportunities. The Blue Devils nearly tied the game in the 81st minute, in which Davis took a rip that hit the crossbar.
“We created a lot of opportunities and didn’t finish them,” Kerr said. “Sean was unlucky in that great shot that hit the crossbar.”
Although Duke did not manage to pull out the win, Kerr credits them with a better approach than last weekend against Notre Dame, in which the Blue Devils went scoreless.
“Now we have to take advantage of our approach-play and finish off by scoring,” Kerr said. “We had good opportunities, but we didn’t execute.”
Execution will be the difference between a win or a loss Sunday, when the Blue Devils face off against Delaware to close out the John Rennie Nike Invitational.