Duke defenders Jared Rist and Tyler Hilliard, both graduate students in their final season of eligibility, form the right side of the Blue Devils’ four-man back line today. But they remember their previous meeting on the soccer field only all too well.
Last year in the NCAA tournament, Rist scored the game-winning goal – his only goal of the season – as Georgetown eliminated Syracuse 2-1. Hilliard was a defender on that Syracuse team.
“I didn’t know who he was,” Hilliard said of his new teammate. “They said he was the kid who put us out (of the NCAAs). We settled it. I told him not to bring it up any more.”
“We’ve talked about it, and I won’t bring it up around him,” Rist said.
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Rist, a graduate of Riverside High in Durham, said he was always a Duke fan growing up. He wasn’t recruited by the Blue Devils out of high school but decided to fulfill a childhood dream and play for them while attending graduate school at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
Hilliard took a similar route to Durham from Syracuse, which ended Duke’s 2014 season in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. He is attending Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Both he and Rist said connections with former coaches were instrumental in their decisions. Duke assistant Mike Miller spent four years at Syracuse, including three while Hilliard was there. Duke assistant Michael Brady was Rist’s youth coach in Durham.
Both players also liked the opportunity to play close to home.
“I can keep competing in the top soccer conference in the country and be nearer home,” said Hilliard, who is from Atlanta.
International duty: One current and one former Tar Heel are playing overseas for U.S. men’s teams this week.
UNC freshman midfielder Martin Salas has been called for the U.S. U-20 men’s team playing in the Stevan Vilotic-Cele Tournament in Serbia. Salas, from Dallas, is one of five collegians and the only ACC player on the 23-man roster. The U.S. team plays host Serbia in Subotica on Thursday, France in Senta on Friday, and a placement match on Monday.
The U.S. team is coached by former N.C. State All-American and international player Tab Ramos.
Meanwhile, former UNC defender Boyd Okwuonu has been called to the 24-man U-23 team roster, which will play two friendlies in England in advance of qualifying for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The U.S. will play England on Thursday in Preston and Qatar on Tuesday in Bury. Okwuonu, a 2015 grad, plays for the USL development team for Real Salt Lake of MLS. These will be the last matches for the U.S. before Olympic qualifying begins in October. U-23 teams with a maximum of three overage players are used in men’s Olympic competition.
Looking ahead: It’s a big weekend for women’s soccer in the Duke Nike Classic. A grouping worthy of an NCAA regional brings four nationally ranked teams to Koskinen Stadium. No. 5 UNC and No. 20 Southern Cal (2-1) open play at 5 p.m. Friday, with No. 16 California (2-1) and No. 24 Duke meeting at 7:30. On Sunday it’s UNC-Cal at 11 a.m. and Duke-Southern Cal at 1:30.
The N.C. State women will host a tournament of their own. Wake Forest (1-1-1) and William & Mary (3-1) meet at 5 p.m. Friday, followed by N.C. State and Oregon (1-3) at 8 p.m. On Sunday it’s Wake-Oregon at 11 a.m. and State-W&M at 2 p.m.
In men’s soccer Duke hosts Iona (0-1-1) at 5 p.m. Saturday and Loyola (0-1-1) at 7 p.m. Tuesday. UNC welcomes William & Mary (1-1) at 7 p.m. Friday and Tulsa (1-1) at 7 p.m. Sunday. N.C. State visits Liberty (1-1) at 7 p.m. Friday and Davidson (1-0) at 7 p.m. Monday.