Duke dodged a bullet at home Tuesday with a dramatic win, and it will now get a chance at its first victory against a ranked opponent.

After overcoming a 2-0 deficit to beat Wisconsin 4-3, the Blue Devils will take on No. 11 Syracuse away at SU Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday. Although the Blue Devils and the Orange are both ACC competitors, they only play each other once every two years in the current rotation. Duke has lost all three times it has faced Syracuse since the Orange joined the ACC, including a defeat in the 2014 ACC quarterfinals. 

“They’re a formidable opponent and they’ve had a great history and a great coach,” Blue Devil head coach John Kerr said. “Hopefully, we’ll be ready for them on Friday.”

Duke (5-1-1, 1-1-0 in the ACC) looks to shut down the Syracuse offense and limit its corner-kick opportunities, a feat easier said than done against a team that has earned 53 corners this season. Defending set pieces has the Blue Devils' Achilles' heel this season—four of the five goals Duke has allowed in its last two games have come off corners, with the other coming on a free kick. 

“It was disappointing that we let another corner-kick goal in, and all three of [Wisconsin’s] goals were set pieces,” Kerr said. “So it definitely is an issue, and we’re trying to address it.”

Although the Blue Devil defense had an unimpressive night against the Badgers, Duke's offense picked up the slack, with senior midfielder Cameron Moseley scoring two second-half goals to lead the team to a victory.

The Blue Devil offense has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the run of play this season, with 2.4 goals per game and 120 total shots on goal through the first month of the year. 

“We have an ability to score from all different angles,” Kerr said. “We’ve got wide players, underneath players, center forwards, midfielders, all that can score. We’re always capable of scoring, so the trick is, can you reduce the number of goals let in?”

Although Duke has its best record through seven games during Kerr's 10-year career in Durham, its recent defensive struggles could be costly against Syracuse (4-2-2, 0-1-1) and the rest of the ACC, which has seven of the top 11 teams in the country.

The Orange, led by top goal-scorer Jonathan Hagman, have lost two straight games against No. 10 Louisville and Cornell at home, only scoring once in those defeats. But they will challenge Duke with their physicality as long as they can defend under control—Syracuse has been given 13 yellow cards and three red cards this season.  

“Syracuse is very physical, so it won’t be that drastic of a change for us from [Tuesday] to Friday,” Kerr said. “We’re going to be well-versed in the physicality part of the game.” 

With both teams looking to rebound from shaky weeks with something to prove, Friday night’s game is primed to be a hard-fought battle.

Hank Tucker contributed reporting.