DURHAM, N.C.—Duke graduate student and Durham native Hassan Pinto had a memorable debut as a Blue Devil, scoring his first collegiate goal to lead the team to a 1-0 victory over Furman in the men’s soccer season opener. Will Pulisic made four stops to record his first clean sheet of the 2019 campaign.
Pinto, coming off the bench just over halfway through the half, put himself in the right place as he made a hard run to the weak side and tapped in a service from Aedan Stanley on the left side. Conor Kelly started the combination play 25 yards from goal with Stanley who whipped the ball in with his left foot to Pinto running into the six-yard box for the finish.
Joining the Blue Devils after three seasons at Elon, the goal was the first in Pinto’s 49 career games.
“[Scoring that goal] was everything,” Pinto said. “When I got on the field all I wanted to do was make an impact. Whether that was goals, assists, or anything that could help the team I was willing to do and it just worked out perfectly. To get my first goal in front of Bull City is the best feeling in the world.”
Pinto’s goal lifted the Blue Devils’ spirits after Furman had started to get into the game as the half wore on. Duke just missed taking an early lead on a fabulous set piece service by Max Moser to the back post for Matthias Frick. The junior defender headed the ball back across the face of the goal where Daniele Proch missed his final touch just wide.
“You have to love [Hassan’s] energy and his enthusiasm and being in the right place at the right time,” said head coach John Kerr. “We always promote guys coming from wide areas to get into dangerous scoring positions and he listened and converted. I’m very happy for him.”
Furman had a couple chances in the first half as well with Pulisic denying them twice and a couple missing the mark.
Coming out of the break looking for the equalizer, the Paladins nearly evened the score in the 54th minute on a set piece but were denied twice by the woodwork. Pulisic got just enough of his fingertips on Cole McLagan’s free kick to have it hit the post. The rebound fell to Rocky Guerra inside the six-yard box. Guerra took a touch and tried to fire it home, but hit the crossbar.
The Blue Devils breathed a sigh of relief, cleared the ball out of danger, and played stifling defense for the final 35 minutes. Furman outshot Duke 5-2 in the second half and 9-8 overall for the game.
The shutout is 14th of his career as he pushes his career record to 24-11-5. Max Fisher went the distance for Furman in net, making two saves, including an unbelievable diving stop to deny Suniel Veerakone his highlight reel strike in the 34th minute.
Duke closes out the John Rennie Nike Invitational against CSU Bakersfield this Sunday, Sept. 1 at 2:30 p.m. The ACCNX will stream the contest and live stats will be available at GoDuke.com.