Sean Davis made a big impact on the annual Duke-North Carolina soccer showdown Friday night.
His hard foul on UNC's Andy Craven 3 seconds after the opening kickoff served notice that the Blue Devils were going to play hard. And his goal and assist proved the difference on the scoreboard as unranked Duke shocked No. 1 UNC 2-1 at Koskinen Stadium before a raucous crowd of students from both sides.
It was Duke’s first win in coach John Kerr’s tenure over a No. 1 team and its biggest victory since beating Wake Forest 1-0 in the 2006 ACC championship game. He’s now 1-2-1 in those contests after his first win as a coach over the Tar Heels.
“Finally a good day for the Duke fans,” Kerr said. “They've been waiting a long time for it.”
UNC (5-2, 1-1 ACC) broke on top 1-0 late in the first half after asserting control of play over the final 15 minutes. After several near misses on crosses, junior midfielder Alex Olofson sent one in to senior forward Tyler Engel, whose one-timer clipped the right post and ricocheted into the back of the net at the 37:37 mark for his third goal of the season.
Despite outshooting Duke 8-3 for the half, UNC couldn’t expand the lead. “I was concerned we weren’t going to have anything to show for it until Tyler got that one,” said UNC coach Carlos Somoano, who thought his Tar Heels tired in the second half coming off a Tuesday night match at William & Mary. “I think we just ran out of gas.”
Urged on by the crowd estimated at 4,000 Duke (3-2-1, 1-1) rallied in the second half, but it wasn’t until Davis took control that the Blue Devils leveled the match. The senior midfielder dribbled toward the goal and was tripped up 20 yards out by UNC’s Rob Lovejoy, prompting a warning from referee John McCloskey. Davis took the ensuing free kick and curled a shot into the upper left corner at 74:32.
“I like to consider myself pretty strong in that area,” Davis said of the free kick. “I put it right where I wanted.”
He did the same thing on the game-winning goal, when Moseley got on the end of his cross from 25 yards out. It was the freshman’s ACC-leading fifth goal, coming at the 80:19 mark.
“I saw Cam, who is incredible at finishing, open in front of the goal,” Davis said. “They gave me too much room, and I was able to capitalize.”
“Remarkable,” Kerr said. “”Phenomenal play by a senior who knows this is his last year, his last time to play Carolina.”
Those goals were the first allowed by UNC senior goalkeeper Brendan Moore in 493:44, a span of 5 1/2 games and only the third and fourth goals he’s allowed all season.
Duke ended up outshooting the Tar Heels 13-12, with Moore making four saves and Joe Ohaus three for Duke. Despite the physical style of play by both teams, UNC had only a slight edge in fouls, 11-9. Moseley and Kevon Black received yellow cards for Duke, while Raby George got one for UNC.
Davis might have escaped getting one on his hard foul to open the night.
“This is Duke-Carolina,” he said. “I wanted to step it up in a big way, and I might have let my energy get the better of me. But I did want to send a message to our guys, our team.”
Duke 3, Pittsburgh 0: Christina Gibbons, a sophomore from Raleigh's Cardinal Gibbons, scored along with Toni Payne and Imani Dorsey for Duke against Pittsburgh. The visiting Blue Devils improved to 5-4, 1-0 ACC.