Freshman Will Pulisic has big shoes to fill this season following former goalkeeper Robert Moewes’ departure.

Moewes—a graduate transfer from Binghamton—started all 17 games for the Blue Devils in 2016 and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player in the 2016 season, leaving a void that four different goalkeepers vied to step into in the preseason, with Pulisic emerging from the competition as the starter.

He will be Duke's first freshman starting in goal since Joe Ohaus in 2014. Now a senior, Ohaus is the only Blue Devil netminder in 2016 that appears on the roster again this fall, but graduate transfer Erik Hanson and freshman Michael Reis join Pulisic as newcomers.

“This is the first time we’ve had this much depth, and also the first time we’ve had so many guys,” Ohaus said.

Ohaus was eclipsed the last two years as a starter by graduate students, with Mitchell Kupstas and Wilson Fisher splitting time in 2015 before giving way to Moewes last year. Moewes was the America East Goalkeeper of the Year in both 2014 and 2015 and posted a goals-against average of 1.4 and a .736 save percentage after arriving at Duke.

The Dortmund, Germany, native made seven stops in a 2-1 double-overtime upset against then-No. 4 Notre Dame, including three point-blank saves in the second overtime. After the stellar season, Moewes was drafted in the third round of the MLS Draft by Toronto FC, leaving Duke without a goalkeeper.

“We’ve been lucky with the goalkeeper position with graduate students coming in from out-of-area places,” Blue Devil head coach John Kerr said. “They bring a different perspective to the team and the position itself.”

Although the Duke did add another graduate student in Hanson from Brown, Kerr elected to hand the keys to his highly-touted freshman right away.

Pulisic—the cousin of U.S. National Team star Christian Pulisic—started in the U17 World Cup in 2015 for the U.S. U17 National Team, and he has also played for the U19 National Team. Instead of attending college right away after high school, he took a gap year to compete with Borussia Dortmund's U19 team in Germany, and Pulisic has won Golden Glove awards as the top goalkeeper in tournaments in France and Turkey.

“I learned so much in Germany, and Borussia Dortmund has produced so many great players.” Pulisic said. “That’s another year of experience I had at such a high level, so the more situations you see, the less pressure you’re going to feel.”

Pulisic did not give up a goal last weekend to help the Blue Devils to their fifth straight John Rennie Nike Invitational title, handing Duke its first season-opening shutout since 2010 Friday against Central Florida and repeating the feat Sunday against Fordham.

“I jut try to be sharp and focus on everything,” Pulisic said. “I felt good on the field...It’s just about going out every day, learning something new, and trying to apply that to your game”

But if anything happens to Pulisic as the starter, the Blue Devils have a few capable options behind him.

Hanson started 15 games in 2016 at Brown and was third in the Ivy League with a 1.0 goals against average, posting four shutouts.

“Erik brings another dimension to our team, raising the level and keeping it high,” Kerr said. “He’s got a great attitude and appreciated the opportunity here at Duke.”

Ohaus is another veteran at the college level, though he has not seen any game action since his freshman year, when the New Jersey native started 13 games with a 2.0 goals-against average and a .634 save percentage.

With Reis as the team's youngest goalkeeper, he lacks in some of the experience that the other three may have, but started all 20 games for the FC Golden State Academy Team last year.

“All four goalkeepers are showing well in training, so if Will happens to go down with an injury or a red card, we have another three goalkeepers to choose from,” Kerr said. “We’re really pleased with that depth in that position.”

It is hard to improve at a position immediately after losing a player like Moewes, but the Blue Devils may have done just that, which could set the stage for their first NCAA tournament appearance in six years come November.

Hank Tucker and Mitchell Gladstone contributed reporting.