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Owls work hard for win at Wilmington

WILMINGTON, Ohio — Offensive chances were extremely difficult to come by during Wednesday night’s men’s soccer game between Kenyon College and host Wilmington College. The visiting Owls, however, got what they needed in the 71st minute with a goal that allowed them to clear Williams Stadium’s tricky artificial turf with a 1-0 non-conference win.

Kenyon, ranked No. 8 in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll, did not put together the first half it wanted. The Owls struggled with some bad bounces off the turf, but did recover thanks to a couple spectacular defensive plays from junior Aidan Burns.

Those first-half stops from Burns kept the Quakers scoreless and gave Kenyon the opportunity to turn things around in the second half, a span in which the Owls played more aggressively and controlled the tone. 

While Kenyon ended up out-shooting the Quakers 13-9 throughout the game, only one of its shots was on goal, but it did result in the game-winner.

The scenario unfolded from the left side at the 70:24 mark. Sophomore Eamon Dujakovich had the ball deep in the zone, but worked out of the left corner to create some space and left-footed an accurate pass to the mouth of the Wilmington goal. Just before the pass was delivered, Alem Duratovic, also a sophomore, slipped behind two defenders and headed the ball into the top left corner of the Quakers’ net. The score was Duratovic’s fourth in the last three games and his fifth overall this season, tying him for the team lead.

Back in the first 45 minutes of play, the Owls avoided two potentially disastrous plays that were sprung by bad bounces off the turf. The first of those two occurred in the 27th minute, when a pass between two Kenyon defenders took a tricky hop and landed at the feet of a Wilmington player who sprinted up the middle, looking for a one-on-one against Kenyon keeper Jack Pedreshi. Before that could happen, Burns raced back to get in front of the play and booted the ball out of bounds.

Roughly four minutes later, Burns again came up big for the Owls. This time, Pedreschi moved out of the box to stop a long ball that was delivered down the left side. The pass, however, bounced in front of Pedreschi and over his head, allowing Wilmington’s Ben Guimson to take over and unleash an uncontested shot from the left side. As he did, Burns ran back once again, slid in front of the goal line and blocked Guimson’s effort.

By the end of the first half, both teams had five shots apiece. Only one of those attempts was on goal and that was the one steered aside by Burns’ play on Guimson.

While Kenyon (5-0-0) had just one shot on goal for the duration, Wilmington (3-2-1) had four, three of which were saved by Pedreschi, who recorded his second consecutive shutout.

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