It looked like Duke would earn its first goal of ACC almost immediately after the first whistle blew. After a shot went wide and another hit the woodwork, the Blue Devils looked primed to go up early.
It ended up taking 35 minutes, but the Duke offense won out and continued to dominate Virginia Tech’s defense en route to a seemingly effortless 3-1 victory Friday at Koskinen Stadium.
“[The first ACC win] feels great,” Blue Devil head coach John Kerr said. “It was a long time coming. Great to start off league play with a big win and I’m very happy with the performance.”
Through the initial third of the game, Duke (4-0-1, 1-0-0 in the ACC) demonstrated plenty of aggression offensively, stringing together precise through balls and earning chances in the box, but it took a superior effort from senior captain Brian White to notch the first tally for the Blue Devils.
White crossed the ball from the corner, finding sophomore Jack Doran in the box, and though Hokie goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard stopped Doran’s initial shot, he was helpless to stop Daniele Proch from slotting the rebound into the bottom right corner.
White’s energy and aggression were apparent throughout the game, as the Flemington, N.J., native chased down loose balls from the edge of the field and attempted several runs through multiple defenders to get into attacking positions.
That effort came to fruition after halftime. White took five shots on goal in a row for his squad and finally found paydirt with a left-footed rocket that flew past Lundgaard’s outstretched hands.
“I want to score goals, and the coaches are pushing me to be the guy that scores goals for this team,” White said. “We got one, and I just kept trying to get one more. That’s what my job is.”
Buoyed by a raucous crowd of students on the far bleachers nearest Wallace Wade Stadium, the Blue Devils took an insurmountable lead with a goal in the waning minutes of the contest. On a through ball created through more aggressive running from the midfield, Proch and White combined to send in an assist to sophomore Suniel Veerakone. Once again, Lundgaard was left on an island as Veerakone calmly put the ball into the lower half of the net.
Although the Duke offense thoroughly outclassed its opposition, the performance of the defense was equally impressive. Senior Markus Fjortoft silenced Virginia Tech star forward Marcelo Acuna, and the Hokie offense was held to just seven shots throughout the entire game. Only a late-game defensive breakdown stood between the Blue Devils and a clean sheet.
With fewer than 10 minutes to play, forward Collin Verfurth headed a cross from Jon Ingason past Duke goalkeeper Will Pulisic to give the Hokies (2-3-0, 0-1-0) their only goal of the game.
“I’m gutted that they didn’t get the shutout,” Kerr said. “I thought that they dominated their offense and was disappointed that they gave up that goal late in the game. At the same time, we can build on that and look forward to a strong defense. Kevon Black came on strong...and did a really great job tonight. It’s nice that we have depth at different positions.”
After a successful performance to open ACC play, Duke will look to stay unbeaten against North Carolina on a neutral field in Greensboro next Saturday night.