Oct. 7, 2009

Courtesy of Davidson

DAVIDSON, N.C. - Two goals in the first eight minutes proved to be the difference as the Davidson men’s soccer team defeated a nationally-ranked opponent for the second time this season, downing No. 6 Duke, 4-1 on Tuesday night in front of 1,487 fans in Alumni Stadium.

Junior forward Yannick Pilgrim (Arima, Trinidad & Tobago) led the scoring effort with two goals, including the game-winner. Freshman Brian McGue (Dublin, Ohio) and Southern Conference scoring leader Charlie Reiter (Westport, Conn.) also registered a goal each.

“Yannick showed his class again tonight,” said head coach Matt Spear. “He is just dynamite. His pace and his finishing are surreal. He had one of those games where you just couldn’t catch him.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Chip Sanders (Thomasville, Ga.) made two saves as the Davidson defense fended off 19 shots from Duke’s attack.

Davidson (9-1-0) has now beaten two nationally-ranked teams in the same season for the first time since 2004. On Sept. 25 this season, the Wildcats beat then-No. 25 South Carolina by the same 4-1 score at home. The win extends Davidson’s winning streak to seven games and keeps them on track to match the 10-1 start to the 1990 season.

“I went into this game thinking we could win because the guys have played so well and have come so far already this season,” said Spear. “They just believe that their way, their system, and their patterns are working so precisely, and so sharply, that they can win every single game.”

Duke’s three-match winning streak in the series was halted. Davidson had last beat Duke in 2003 by a score of 2-0 at home.

Duke (7-3-0) entered the match coming off wins over the defending Southern Conference regular season champions, Elon, and the defending nation champions, then-No. 2 Maryland. Soccer America ranked the Blue Devils sixth in the country in a poll released on Monday, while the National Soccer Coaches Association of America ranked them eighth in a poll released on Tuesday. Davidson received votes in the NSCAA poll to effectively rank them 28th.

Davidson got on the scoreboard just three minutes into the match off a corner kick from senior forward Reiter. Reiter placed the ball along the goal line where McGue was able find it through traffic and head it in for his first career goal.

The ‘Cats struck again five minutes later. Sophomore defender Garrett Bostwick (Cary, N.C.) sent a lead pass up the right flank that appeared to be intended for McGue. The ball slipped past McGue near the top of the 18-yard box, but Pilgrim streaked in and beat a Duke defender to the ball. Pilgrim dribbled in to the six-yard box near the right post and beat freshman goalkeeper James Belshaw to the far-post side.

“I read the dummy from Brian McGue, and I saw it clean on to the goal,” said Pilgrim “I knew that if I just beat the defender in front of me, I could get the shot off and get it. I just took a hard shot towards the left post and hoped for the best, and it went in.”

“When you put a team on their heels like that early, it is hard for them to recover,” said Spear. “The early goals were an enormous lift for us. They got Duke out of their rhythm and tempo, and had them playing catch-up throughout the match. The early start was tremendous.”

Duke responded though as Matthew Thomas headed the ball in off a corner kick from Cole Grossman to cut the Wildcats’ lead in half at 24:37.

Davidson secured the win though in the second half after adding a pair of goals.

In the 12th minute of the half, junior Josh Zipin (Silver Spring, Md.) took a shot from the center of the field, 15-yards out, which was saved by Belshaw. Belshaw was not able to control the rebound off his diving save, and Reiter found the ball to the left of the net for the score.

The save was Belshaw’s only one in the match. Davidson got off 11 shots total.

Pilgrim put the match out of reach at 76:09, stealing the ball from a Duke defender and dribbling in to the left of the six-yard box. Pilgrim then bounced a shot off the inside of the far-post for the goal, which was his seventh of the season.

“It’s good to show ranked teams that Davidson is a dangerous place this year,” said Pilgrim after the game. “Teams in past years wouldn’t respect us, but this year we are showing them that we are scoring goals and that we are going for everyone.”

“Our guys just had that spirit about them that this game was going to be ours,” said Spear. “Soccer is a game that is all about the players on the field. Tonight it was all them connecting the dots on the field for the win. Beating Duke is a tremendous accomplishment that also means a great deal to our alumni and fans. I am thrilled that our players were able to deliver such a big win for them.”

The Wildcats will resume their conference schedule with a trip to Elon on Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. match. Davidson will host conference foes Appalachian State (Oct. 14) and Furman (Oct. 17) next week. Both matches are set for 7 p.m. in Alumni Stadium.

Notes: Reiter remains the team’s scoring leader with 21 points (7g, 7a) … The win was Davidson’s eighth over Duke in 42 all-time matches … Duke prevailed by 2-0 scores in both 2007 and 2008 and also won in 2006, 3-1 … The teams did not meet in 2004 and 2005 … Street Soccer 945, a soccer program for the homeless originally founded by Davidson men’s soccer alumnus Lawrence Cann, played an exhibition match at halftime … A portion of the proceeds from the game went to benefit the Charlotte Street Soccer USA team.