Duke soccer might best be described as a study in contrasts. On the one hand, the Blue Devils return 84 percent of their scoring from last year, eighth-best in Division I.
On the other hand, Duke’s 13 freshmen make it the fourth-youngest team in the nation.
Those divergent elements came together nicely Sunday, as the host Blue Devils routed Stetson 8-2 to win the championship of the John Rennie Nike Invitational at sun-baked Koskinen Stadium. Elon defeated Loyola Marymount 1-0 in Sunday’s first game.
Freshman midfielder Cameron Moseley and sophomore midfielder Seo-In Kim each scored twice as four of the eight goals came from freshmen. Sophomore forward Brody Huitema added a goal and an assist, and tournament MVP Sean Davis, a junior midfielder, contributed three assists as the Blue Devils scored their most goals since a 10-0 victory against Emory & Henry in September 2004.
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The Blue Devils outshot the Hatters 21-6, with freshman goalkeeper Joe Ohaus making one save for Duke. Stetson’s Paul Ladwig had five saves.
It was the 18th time in the 33-year history of the tournament, renamed in honor of Duke’s former coach, that the Blue Devils have won it, including the past two years.
“When I was a player here, we won the tournament a couple times,” said Duke coach John Kerr, who accepted the championship trophy from Rennie, his former coach. “It’s nice to continue that as a coach.”
Despite the lopsided final, Duke (1-0-1) trailed for the middle eight minutes of the match after Stetson’s David Caulfield looped in a 30-yard shot off a cleared corner kick 3:41 before halftime to give the Hatters (1-1) a 2-1 lead. Marco Hjorth had scored for the Hatters in the 29th minute to tie it at 1-1.
The Blue Devils didn’t trail for long. Moseley, who had scored off a Davis corner kick in the 10th minute, equalized 4:10 into the second half off two slick overlapping passes in the slot from Davis and another freshman, Brian White.
Moseley was making his first start for the Blue Devils, one of six freshmen in Sunday’s starting lineup. He joined Davis on the all-tournament team, as did Duke defenders Zach Mathers and Nat Eggleston.
“I had a tough game on Friday, and the coaches told me to keep my head up so today I kept going forward with confidence,” Moseley said. “That was the difference between today and Friday, and we got the result.”
“Cameron deserved to start in the first game, but we have a plethora of attackers,” Kerr said. “We thought we could get down the flank with him (against Stetson).”
Kim put the Blue Devils in front for good when he got on the end of two long services for his two goals less than 10 minutes apart. When Huitema headed home White’s cross at 72:32 for a 5-2 lead, the rout was on.
Duke senior Matt Slotnick and freshmen Macario Hing-Glover and Bryson Asher scored in the final eight minutes as reserves gained some late playing time.
The Blue Devils also had trailed 1-0 at halftime Friday against Loyola Marymount before rallying for a 1-1 tie.
“It shows we have some resiliency and can come back, not fold like a pack of cards,” Kerr said.