Having to bounce back from a loss for the first time all season, the Blue Devils did not generate a goal through the first 45 minutes of action Wednesday night. When a Georgia State player picked up a pair of yellow cards, Duke took advantage, scoring four second-half goals.
Wednesday’s game against Georgia State was uncharted territory for the Blue Devils. A young Duke team had to respond to a loss for the first time after Friday night’s 1-0 letdown against Virginia Tech.
“It was a unique situation,” sophomore Danny Miller said. “We were saying that we hated the way we felt after Virginia Tech and we didn’t want to feel that way again. ”
The No. 16 Blue Devils (12-1) avoided that disappointment again by beating Georgia State (6-4-1) 4-0 at Koskinen Stadium Wednesday night. Although the score would not indicate it, the victory did not come easily for Duke, which had to rely on a costly foul by Georgia State to begin its scoring onslaught.
With the game still scoreless in the 56th minute, Georgia State forward Ben Link picked up his second yellow card of the match, giving Duke a one-man advantage for the remainder of the contest. The Blue Devils capitalized on their opponent’s folly. Five minutes later, Spencer Wadsworth centered the ball to Nigi Adogwa, who pounded the ball into the bottom left corner of the net past a diving Georgia State goalie.
“[Wadsworth] got the ball in with a perfect cross,” Adogwa said. “He’s been trying that in previous games, but today I just felt it was going to come there and I was lucky enough to finish it up.”
The Panthers tried in earnest to mount a comeback, but it was to no avail as the Blue Devil defense held up strong and senior goalie Justin Trowbridge notched yet another shutout.
“They were defending and countering and still were able to get forward a little bit, but it’s obviously a big problem for them when that happens,” head coach John Rennie said.
Georgia State’s pressing offense left huge holes in its defense, and Duke poured in three more goals before the match was over. The Blue Devils took advantage of a Georgia State team that, in addition to being down a goal, was also playing short-handed.
“Whether it was 10 or 11 guys, I think we wore them out and then we got more chances,” Rennie said. “This is not a bad team we were up against.”
Danny Kramer, Paul Dudley and Ryan Pascioni scored the last three goals. Pascioni’s goal was the first of his career, and came just minutes after earned his first collegiate point by assisting on Dudley’s goal.
Scoring was not always easy for Duke, as a gritty Panther defense played tough even as the Blue Devils outshot the Panthers 11 to three in the first half. The ball was in Georgia State’s defensive zone for the majority of the opening period, but Duke could not capitalize because of missed opportunities and poor shooting.
“We didn’t do much of anything wrong, but shooting was obviously not what we wanted it to be,” Rennie said.
Slow starts become a bit of a pattern for the Blue Devils lately. Against North Carolina, Duke fell behind early, but was able to battle back for the victory. A lethargic effort against Virginia Tech dealt the Blue Devils their first loss of the season. A slow start Wednesday served as the wakeup call that Duke needed.
“You can’t come into the game sleeping and walking around,” Adogwa said. “Georgia State was actually in the game in the first half. We stepped up in the second half.”
Rennie, although, was pleased with the way the team came out after Friday’s loss.
“The guys understand that in this game, not everything goes your way all the time, but the response was very good. I was very happy with the effort, the intensity and the enthusiasm,” Rennie said.
Duke next faces N.C. State in Raleigh Sunday afternoon in a crucial ACC tilt. After a brief non-conference respite to get the Blue Devils back on track, the team must now focus its attention on an ACC cellar-dwelling opponent.
“Getting those goals at the end of the half really got us back in the groove of things,” Miller said. “Hopefully we can carry that on against N.C. State.”
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