Top Stories

Freshman GK saves penalty as UVA holds off slumping Duke

Logoduke Logovirginia

Duke couldn't have started its ACC Conference showdown with Virginia any worse, and also couldn't have finished it any worse.

Virginia saw a second-minute goal from midfielder Brian Span open the scoring and give the Cavaliers the only lead it would need. Duke fought bravely in the second half, and outplayed the visiting Cavs in the second 45 minutes, but wasted chances doomed Duke to a 1-0 loss.

The Blue Devils had a chance for a late equalizer, but Virginia freshman Spencer LaCivita saved a penalty kick from Andrew Wenger in the 88th minute to preserve Virginia's fourth straight victory and dropped Duke to 1-4.

"It's very frustrating," said Duke coach John Kerr, who saw his team lose their fourth game of the season. "We dominated most of the second half but we were desperately unlucky. This is a test of character but it's a long season and we can build our way out of this start."

UVA was off to a dream opening when Bates found open space down the right flank of Duke's defense. The Junior forward's low cross found Span, who squared it goalwards, leaving Duke goalkeeper James Belshaw with no chance.

The rest of the first half was littered with half chances but no serious threat on either goal was produced. Nick Palodichuk's looping header was handled easily by LaCivita and Bates found himself clear in on goal but a woeful first touch sent the ball straight into the grateful hands of Belshaw. Grant Silvester almost gave Virginia a two-goal lead 10 seconds before the break but his header landed on the top netting.

The second half saw a cavalcade of chances as both teams bombed forward. Bates beat Belshaw with a toe poke but the slow, dribbling shot didn't have enough pace to make it over the line. Virginia saw precious few chances for the rest of the game as Duke controlled possession.

Palodichuk's shot was inches wide of the post on the counterattack two minutes later before Wenger saw a few shots from distance sail just off target. The Blue Devils' best chance of the game came when Palodichuk's header from two yards out was just wide in the 76th minute. 

Duke kept pressing for an equalizer, pushing the bunkering Cavaliers before earning a penalty in the 88th minute. Wenger figured to give Duke the equalizer, but LaCivita pulled off a perfect diving save to preserve the 1-0 victory.

"It was poor," a visibly frustrated Wenger said following the game. "It was just poor execution. I put it to right about chest high and he saved it."

A scary moment for Duke came when Belshaw came up with a brilliant save on a Virginia shot but smashed his chin into the post. The British goalkeeper was down for several minutes but Kerr said he's not expected to miss any time. Duke couldn't come up with an equalizer in the dying minutes and Virginia opened its ACC campaign with a victory.

After starting the season ranked in the top 10, Duke has slumped to four losses in five games with each loss coming by a single goal. Virginia employed a physical brand of defense, racking up 24 fouls but Kerr thought the tally was low.

"It's frustrating they weren't penalized more for the fouls," Kerr said.

Virginia moved to 4-1-0 on the season and 1-0-0 in the conference. The Cavaliers have to wait until Sept. 23 for their next ACC game, a date with North Carolina in Charlottesville. Duke on the other hand, desperately needs a win against Clemson in a week's time to get back on track. 


  1. Good win for the Hoos but it’s pretty frustrating to watch the style Gelnovatch employs. Scrape one by then defend, defend, defend. Way too much talent for that.

    I guess the 09 natty justifies it to some extent, but that’s only one in 16 years (w only 3 final 4s). Can’t expect a run like the early 90s, but I think a more attack-minded style would yield better results w our talent


Leave a Comment