DURHAM — Two teams in drastic need of an ACC soccer victory couldn’t settle anything Friday night.
Duke rallied for a second-half score and a 1-1 tie with visiting N.C. State at Koskinen Stadium on Sean Davis’ third goal of the season, but the result won’t be enough to move the teams out of 10th and 11th place in the ACC standings. With only four ACC contests left apiece, the Wolfpack (4-3-4, 1-3-3 ACC) and Blue Devils (4-4-5, 0-3-4) are in danger of failing to finish among the top eight teams and qualify for the ACC tournament.
“Two teams looking for wins,” Duke coach John Kerr said. “It’s a tough, tough league this year.”
“You prefer to get three points (in the standings for a victory) instead of one (for a tie),” N.C. State coach Kelly Findley agreed.
Two of N.C. State’s last three outings ended in ties against Gardner-Webb and Wake Forest, while Duke had shut out its last two opponents in scoreless ties with Virginia and North Carolina. But the Blue Devils’ scoreless streak ended at 264 minutes, two seconds when they conceded an own goal in the 13th minute.
Wolfpack freshman forward Travis Wannemuehler helped create the goal when he corraled a long ball down the right flank, beat his defender out wide and dribbled within 10 yards of the goal before crossing the ball, which caromed off Duke defender Sebastien Ibeagha and into the net.
But despite a 6-4 shot advantage and 8-5 edge in corner kicks by halftime, N.C. State couldn’t come up with an insurance goal.
“It’s the tale of our season,” Findley said. “We created enough chances, but we didn’t get that second goal.”
“They came out and dominated the first half,” Kerr said. “I thought we stepped it up in the second half.”
That’s when Duke finally got the equalizer. State defender Moss Jackson-Atogi was whistled for a foul 30 yards out, and Davis, a junior midfielder, put the ensuing free kick in the lower left corner for his third goal of the year.
The goal ended a lengthy dry spell offensively for the Blue Devils, who hadn’t scored since a 2-1 loss to UNC Wilmington three games ago.
“We’ve been working on setpieces since the beginning of the season,” Davis said. “I feel very comfortable taking them, and it was a good opportunity for us to score.”
Davis also had a look at a possible game-winner with four minutes left in the second overtime session when a deflected ball landed at his feet 20 yards out after a mad scramble in the penalty area. But his drive struck teammate Brody Huitema in front of the goal and bounced out of bounds.
“Unfortunately Brody was standing right in the way,” Davis said. “We were creating a lot of chances.” In fact, Duke ended up with an 18-12 advantage in shots and closed the corner kick deficit to 10-8. Both goalkeepers, Fabian Otte for State and Alex Long for Duke, were active all night, recording four saves each.
None of it was enough for a victory.
“There’s plenty of soccer left,” Kerr insisted. “We just need to get some W’s.”