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MEN'S SOCCER: Strong Defense Pushes BC Past Duke

For The Heights

Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

The Boston College men’s soccer team (8-4-3, 3-1-2 ACC) squared off on the road against the Duke Blue Devils (5-7-1,2-4-1) Friday night in a pivotal conference matchup. Both teams were hungry for a win, with the Eagles coming off a 1-0 home loss against Brown, and the Blue Devils looking for vengeance against the team that has eliminated them from the ACC tournament in the past three seasons. With the BC defense able to prevail against an aggressive Duke offensive attack, a second-half goal by senior Stefan Carter was all BC needed to head back to campus victorious with a 1-0 win over Duke in a very physical matchup.

In a first half in which the whistle was blown frequently, the Blue Devils came out aggressively on offense and put the Eagles’ defense to a test. While the defense proved strong, BC got a great scoring opportunity early on. Five minutes into the game, senior Charlie Rugg was taken down just outside of the 18-yard line and the Eagles were awarded a free kick. Freshman Jason Abbott struck a forceful shot for BC off of the free kick, which made its way around the Duke wall, but goalkeeper James Belshaw was there to make a diving save to his left and keep the Eagles off of the board.

The Blue Devils had a few chances of their own to get on the board early on. BC goalkeeper Justin Luthy made a gutsy save in the 14th minute of play, which prevented Duke from getting on the board. Junior forward Will Donovan tried to head in a cross for the Blue Devils, which came from the left side of the field, but Luthy fearlessly tracked down the ball, collided with Donovan, and came up with the save.

Another good scoring opportunity for Duke came in the 17th minute of play, when sophomore midfielder Riley Wolfe crossed the ball from the right side of the field into the center of the box where a Blue Devil was waiting. Fortunately for the BC, Duke was not able to capitalize as the header skied over the net.

With hard-fought play by the midfielders of both teams, not many other scoring opportunities arose during the first half. A scary moment occurred for the Eagles in the 22nd minute of play when senior forward and leading goal-scorer Charlie Rugg went down just outside of the 18 yard-line after chasing down a long pass. Rugg pulled his hamstring and did not return for the rest of the match.  Freshman Dylan Pritchard replaced him for the remainder of the first half.

With their leading scorer sidelined, BC was faced with a tough challenge as it took the field in the second half. Both teams came out hard in the second half, continuing the physicality and tough midfield play from the first half. The Blue Devils got a couple of good scoring opportunities early on in the second half. In the 50th minute of play, a throw in by Duke made its way into the Eagles’ box. In pursuit of the ball, Luthy got tangled up and fell to the ground, leaving an open net for Duke. BC junior defender Nick Corliss was able to clear the ball before any damage was done.

In a game that seemed to be mutually physical, things did get a little chippy at times. A yellow card was dealt to both BC’s Colin Murphy in the 60th minute and Duke’s Rob Dolot in the 62nd minute of play.

With both teams battling, the Eagles were able to break the tie in the 71st minute of play when senior midfielder Kyle Bekker sent a through ball to the hustling senior Stefan Carter. Carter was able to control the ball on a breakaway and find the back of the net to give the Eagles the decisive 1-0 lead.

Desperatley, trying to avoid losing at home, Duke continued to apply pressure, taking six of the last eight shots. Luthy was able to make some big-performance plays as the second half progressed. With 15 minutes remaining, Duke’s Sean Davis was dished a pass inside the box, but Luthy was able to hustle and deflect Davis’ shot and prevent it from going in. Perhaps Luthy’s most important save came with nine minutes remaining, when freshman Zach Mathers took a free kick just inside midfield. Junior Sebastien Ibeagha managed to get a head on the free kick inside the box and direct it towards the net. Luthy was able to retreat back in front of the net and tip the ball over the crossbar, shutting down a very good scoring opportunity for Duke.

With solid defense throughout, gutsy goaltending, hard-nosed midfield play, and a timely goal, the Eagles were able to leave Durham with a victory. BC ended the day with four shots on goal and eight shots overall, while the Blue Devils recorded four shots on goal and 16 overall shots. Luthy was able to come up with four saves for BC, while Belshaw came up with three for Duke.

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