DURHAM — No. 1-ranked Maryland scored twice in the first-half goals and beat Duke 2-1 Friday in ACC soccer action at Koskinen Stadium in Durham.
Maryland accomplished something no team had been able to do this year against Duke – score in the first half.
For good measure, the No. 1-ranked Terrapins did it twice and made the first-half goals stand up for 2-1 ACC soccer victory Friday night at Koskinen Stadium.
The victory allows the Terrapins (11-0-1, 5-0) to overtake idle North Carolina for first place in the ACC, while the Blue Devils (4-6-1, 2-3-1) remain in the middle of the league standings.
The timing seemed right for Duke to pull off the upset. The game was televised regionally, and retired Duke coach John Rennie was doing color commentary. Maryland's last trip to Durham was a 2-0 Duke win, and Duke had a 3-1 record when the Terps owned a No. 1 national ranking.
“They're the best team we've seen all season,” Duke coach John Kerr said. “They're the standard-bearer. They're the benchmark.”
Duke had not allowed a first-half goal all season, but the Terrapins’ high pressure up front produced a couple of early scoring opportunities for forward Patrick Mullins, who shot wide left on both short-range attempts in the opening three minutes.
In the 13th minute, however, Maryland solved the Duke defense. Defender Mikey Ambrose broke in on the left side and sent in a pass from the top of the penalty area, and midfielder John Stertzer connected on the header for his fifth goal of the year at 12:56.
“I think we were a little tentative at the beginning of the game,” Kerr admitted. “We weren't comfortable on the ball and allowed them to get possession.”
Duke has struggled to score goals this season, especially in dynamic play, managing only 12 in 10 previous matches. But the Blue Devils have proven opportunistic on set pieces, and that's how they got back in the match.
Back-to-back corner kicks by freshman midfielder Ryan Thompson set up sophomore midfielder Nat Eggleston – the only Maryland native on the Duke roster – for a header and his first goal of the year at 26:07. It was only the third goal allowed in ACC play by the Terps this season.
But the Terrapins went in front three minutes before halftime when defender Jordan Cyrus hustled after a wide ball along the right sideline deep in the Duke end. He eluded two Duke defenders and sent a cross into the box that reserve forward Christiano Francois touched in at 41:31 for the freshman’s third goal.
“We were disappointed to give up that goal just before the half after we had equalized,” Kerr said. “But we did a better job of possession in the second half.”
Even so, Maryland enjoyed a 19-8 advantage in shots, 11-3 in the second half, despite Duke's 7-2 edge in corner kicks. Duke goalkeeper James Belshaw made two saves, including a point-blank stop on Stertzer , who had broken in alone, in the 60th minute, while Maryland's Keith Cardona had one on a night of mostly inaccurate shooting by both teams.
Corners and free kicks kept Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski on edge.
“I thought we controlled play, but Duke is a handful on setpieces,” Cirovski said. “I thought we did a good job on them...”