In the 95th minute, junior midfielder Ciaran McKenna jumped in the box to receive a pass from Cody Brinkman, hoping to make some sort of contact with the ball.

Duke was just minutes removed from tying the score at two late in regulation, and McKenna headed the ball into the net for the golden goal to edge High Point 3-2 on a rainy afternoon at Koskinen Stadium.

“We kind of made eye contact, and [Brinkman] just lofted the ball into the box,” McKenna said. “I heard the keeper come out and show for it, but I knew I was in the advantage.” 

The Blue Devils (3-0-0) remained perfect in the regular season, but survived their first challenge of the year against the Panthers, who led 2-1 until senior defender Markus Fjortoft scored in the 88th minute to equalize.

Freshman goalkeeper Will Pulisic's shutout streak to start his career ended at a little more than 233 minutes, but Duke still dodged a bullet with the victory.

“It can be hard to get motivated,” said McKenna, who is becoming a major factor despite coming off the bench in all three contests and is tied for the team lead with two goals. “In the past, we wouldn’t have come back from that, so it shows we’ve come a long way and matured a lot as a squad. 

In the first half, Duke started with all the momentum and tried to capitalize on it, with four corner kicks coming before the break. 

A curling free kick taken by sophomore midfielder Suniel Veerakone resulted in a header by freshman defender Matthias Frick—the newcomer's first career goal—that put Duke on the board first. 

But the Blue Devils seemed to lose some steam in the second half, when High Point (2-1-0) capitalized on its lone corner kick of the contest. Jonathan Bolanos headed the ball into the goal off a cross from Ryan Inman in the 55th minute. 

Thirteen minutes later, the Panthers took a surprising lead when Ebe Kudolo delivered a pass to Connor Cesar, who buried a beautiful shot from 20 yards out.

The Blue Devils created multiple scoring opportunities as the second half wound down, and hope was slowly dissipating until the ball found Fjortoft's head in the closing minutes. Sophomore Brandon Williamson sent the ball into the box, and Fjortoft sent it into the left side of the net.

“As soon as Marcus got his header, that just uplifted us,” McKenna said. “After that, there was a mentality shift for us, and we knew the game was in our hands.”

Duke entered overtime rejuvenated and quickly found the game-winner to breath a sigh of relief.

“We faced adversity today for the first time,” head coach John Kerr said. “We got outplayed in the first 10 minutes of the second half and we had to roll up our sleeves and dig deep to come out on top. It wasn’t easy, but I like the way our attitude has been. That’s been the biggest positive from this year.”

The Blue Devils will look to stay perfect Tuesday night, when they face off against Presbyterian at 7 at Koskinen Stadium. The Blue Hose are just 1-2 this season, with a 2-0 loss to Elon in their last game Saturday night.