DURHAM, N.C.—Duke scored a pair of goals in a three minute span to capture a 2-1 victory over Delaware to close out the John Rennie Nike Invitational this afternoon at Koskinen Stadium. Freshman Luis Rendon netted the game winner in the Blue Devils’ first win of the year.
“This feels like a relief,” head coach John Kerr said. “We’ve got a weight off our shoulders now and I think we can move forward. We played well in the first two games against two really tough teams and didn’t come out on the right side of the result but we had another great game today. Delaware and Coach Hennessy did a great job with their preparation and gave us a really hard time. Right up to the end, it was a difficult game.”
Senior goalkeeper James Belshaw and junior center back Sebastien Ibeagha represented Duke on the John Rennie Nike Invitational All-Tournament Team. NC State took home the title with a 2-0-0 record on the weekend.
“It feels great [to get our first win],” Belshaw said. “It’s been a long time coming. I think Friday night we had the performance but it didn’t go our way for one reason or another. But credit to the lads. We came out fighting today and it wasn’t pretty, but we stuck in. But we’re still a long way away from being where we want to be so we’ll put in another week of practice.”
Sophomore Nick Palodichuk netted the first goal for Duke (1-2-0) with assists from freshman Ryan Thompson and Rendon. Ibeagha completed the weekend with a goal and an assist.
Delaware (0-3-0) got off to a strong start with a goal just 6:10 into contest as the Blue Hens caught Duke’s defense on its heels. After controlling much of the possession in the early going, Kyle Bruno found Joe Dipre on the right side of the penalty area. Dipre looked up and quickly took advantage of an open lane and fired the shot low into the left corner of the goal for the 1-0 advantage.
The Blue Hens continued to pressure Duke’s backline and generated another good look just moments later with Belshaw coming up with a save. In search of a rhythm of their own, the Blue Devils started to string their passes together and nearly evened the score off of a Lewis McLeod shot in the 13th minute. The ball at his feet deep in Delaware’s defensive third, the junior striker ‘s strike from 18 yards found the cross bar, the second straight game Duke was denied by the bar.
Just minutes after Thompson and Rendon came off the bench with fresh legs, the Blue Devils evened the score. Able to maintain possession in the final third, Rendon found Thompson wide on the left wing. Thompson swung a perfect left-footed cross into the center of the penalty area were Palodichuk headed it into the back of the net for his first tally of the year.
“Ryan’s got that wonderful left foot,” Kerr said. “He served a nice ball to Nick Palodichuk and we need more service from him because he’s got some great, quality crossing. And then Luis, he’s a talented player. He’s just finding his feet now, getting used to the physicality of the game, the speed of it. But if you give him an open chance, he’s going to take it – left or right foot. He scored a nice left-footed goal today.”
Three minutes later Rendon got into the action again as Ibeagha flicked the ball over to Rendon. The Richmond, Va., native took advantage of the scoring opportunity and perfectly finished his left-footed shot low into the right corner for a 2-1 advantage.
The Blue Devils generated a couple other opportunities, but were unable to extend their lead before halftime.
Duke, in search of its first win of the season, grinded out the second half and held off the Blue Hens for the one-goal victory. The Blue Devils held a 3-1 advantage in shots in the second session and battled to the final whistle.
Overall, the Blue Devils held a 14-5 advantage in shots and an 8-1 edge in corner kicks. Belshaw made two saves in goal, while Jay Lupas had four stops.