For any squad gearing up to play Duke, it’s a given that the Blue Devils will come out firing. It's often just a question of whether or not those shots will connect.
Luckily for Duke, a second-half surge led the No. 23 Blue Devils past Wofford 4-2 Tuesday night at Koskinen Stadium. Duke’s four goals matched their highest scoring output of the season—a tally they haven't reached since their blowout against San Diego back in August.
“We’re really good at approaching that final third, and then maybe we have to make some adjustments to understand a little bit more with our finishing touches,” Blue Devil head coach John Kerr said, “But I’m happy with how we played, happy with our approach to the game and happy with the result.”
Duke (5-3-1) controlled the ball for most of the game. However, despite outshooting the Terriers (1-7-1) 15-3 in the first half, Kerr's squad found itself in an early 1-0 hole after Zach Aversano found the back of the net in the 11th minute. The sophomore midfielder collected a cross off his chest from Saviour Anyagri and lifted it over the outstretched glove of goalie Will Pulisic.
In response, the Blue Devils upped the tempo on their already aggressive attack. Junior Brandon Williamson made a nice touch off a feed from Max Moser and fired a shot past the goalkeeper into the lower left side of the net.
After one period of play, the two teams were knotted at one apiece, something that no one saw coming from Wofford—a team that has struggled with just one win to its name thus far.
“Every ACC team has trouble with these games midweek because we beat each other up on the weekends,” Kerr said. “These are difficult games for all of us.”
After so many matches with failed opportunities for the Blue Devils, the home team knew that if it kept attacking, eventually it would break through. Duke's offense kept the ball in the attacking zone for a majority of the second half and leading goal scorer Daniele Proch put the Blue Devils ahead with a strong individual play to the net in the 50th minute. The junior fielded a throw-in and brushed off contact toward the middle of the field before firing it off the keeper’s hands for his eighth goal of the year.
“I feel much better mentally,” Proch said of his improvements from last season. “Last year was very useful in letting me understand what type of game we’re playing, knowing my teammates, knowing what the coaches want from me, and I think it’s making a big difference this year.”
Duke’s offense never looked back, as Daniel Wright collected a Jack Doran rebound shot and scored in the 58th minute. Freshman Ian Murphy sealed the match in the 76th minute with his third career goal off two great feeds from Kristofer Gardarsson and Torbjorn Alseth.
The Blue Devils, who came into the match averaging five corner kicks per game, racked up 14 opportunities on corners. Their defense stayed strong throughout the second-half push, not allowing a Terrier shot for the first 34 minutes out of the locker room. Wofford scored the last goal of the night with less than three minutes left when the outcome of the match was already decided.
“We had some trouble finishing our plays,” Proch said. “But the key was keep trying and be patient, but at the same time keep creating chances. In the second half, we were more determined and decisive to finish off our chances.”
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Duke’s next big road test awaits when it takes on No. 10 Virginia in Charlottesville Friday. The Blue Devils will look to notch their second top-25 win of the year after beating Florida International in the season opener.