DURHAM, N.C.—Syracuse University scored a pair of goals 14 minutes apart in the second half to upend Duke 2-1 in the inaugural ACC men’s soccer match between the two schools. Brody Huitema netted the lone goal for the Blue Devils.
The ACC win was the first for the Orange in its program history as it improves to 5-2-0 and 1-2-0 in ACC play, while Duke falls to 3-2-2 overall and 0-2-1 in league action.
“Again we were up 1-0 so that crucial second goal has been missing from our play,” said head coach John Kerr. “If we let teams hang around long enough they’re going to punish us. It happened again tonight. It’s disappointing because we played well for a lot of the game. Fair play to Syracuse…they really got after it tonight. They worked us and were very good on set pieces.”
With both teams feeling each other out and trying to build a rhythm, scoring chances were hard to come by in the opening 10 minutes. Syracuse generated the first opportunity as a header from Chris Makowski off of a corner kick was cleared off the line. Blue Devils midfielder Zach Mathers registered the first shot on goal, forcing Syracuse goalkeeper Alex Bono to make the stop on the low driven shot.
Duke goalkeeper Alex Long came up with a big save in the 31st minute, while a shot from Huitema was denied by Bono six minutes later on a Blue Devil counter attack. Makowski, on the Orange’s seventh corner kick of the first half, nearly got made it a 1-0 game in the 42nd minute as his header again was stopped at the goal line by a Duke defender.
Overall, Syracuse led Duke 8-3 in shots and 7-3 in corner kicks on the first half.
Despite only registering three shots in the opening 45 minutes, the Blue Devils possessed the ball well and created quality chances in the offensive third. With those chances in the back of their minds, Duke broke through for the go-ahead goal just 15 seconds into the second half.
Luis Rendon got open on the left side and found Huitema at the top of the 18-yard box. So close to scoring throughout the first half, Huitema struck the ball perfectly and blasted it past Bono for his third goal in two games.
“He’s a threat,” Kerr said. “He’d been a threat in the first five games as well, he just didn’t get on the score sheet. He was unlucky not to get another one tonight. It’s going to come for him if he continues working hard and getting into the right spots, but we need to do a better job of executing in the final third.”
Fifteen minutes later, Syracuse’s Emil Ekblom collected a deflected pass inside the penalty area and slid a shot past the near post to even the score. The Orange went ahead 2-1 15 minutes later on a Chris Nanco score from the left side.
Duke battled hard in the final 15 minutes, but could not come up with an equalizer. The Orange finished with a 16-9 edge in shots for the game and an 8-5 advantage in corner kicks.
The Blue Devils stay at home for their next contest, hosting Wright State Sep. 24 at 7 p.m.