Following an emotional overtime road win, the Blue Devils host a new foe in hopes of picking up their first conference victory.
The Blue Devils are set to host Syracuse for the first-ever ACC contest between the schools Friday at 7 p.m. at Koskinen Stadium. Duke head coach John Kerr said that Tuesday night's comeback victory against Davidson has his squad ready for another conference tilt.
"[Tuesday] night was supposed to be our breakout game, but we left it until late because we had to come back from a two-goal deficit," Kerr said. "The character was shown [Tuesday] night. I challenged them at halftime—I said this game is going to show what kind of character you guys have, what personality you have, and they did a great job in the second half."
Following a first-half lull, the Duke (3-1-2, 0-1-1 in the ACC) offense exploded in the second half against the Wildcats for the team's highest scoring total of the season. It was this offensive spark that propelled the team from a 2-0 deficit to a golden-goal victory.
Kerr said that to take down a Syracuse (4-2, 0-2) team that has already posted wins against Georgetown and Connecticut, the Blue Devils' offensive consistency will need to show through for a full 90 minutes.
After being held scoreless for the first five matches of his collegiate career, freshman Brody Huitema found the back of the net twice against Davidson, including the overtime game winner.
"It was good that Brody broke his scoring duck [Tuesday] night against Davidson," Kerr said. "It was good to score two goals, and to score the winning goal in overtime was a big deal. Hopefully he continues his progress."
Huitema was assisted on each of his tallies by his classmate, Seo-In Kim, who has been one of Duke's primary offensive catalysts this season. Kim continues to set up teammates to make plays and has notched a team-leading three assists this season.
One of the players Kerr said could make more of an impact is sophomore Luis Rendon, who has been held off the scoreboard this season.
"I think Luis Rendon hasn't got off to a good scoring start," Kerr said. "He's playing well, but he hasn't scored yet, so we're hoping he breaks his duck tomorrow night against Syracuse."
The Orange are still searching for their first ACC victory after falling 2-1 to Virginia Tech almost two weeks ago. But Syracuse's spirit is riding high following a 1-0 victory against the No. 7 Huskies Tuesday night.
Freshman midfielder Alex Hallis is off to a hot start in his collegiate career, notching four early goals to lead his team.
"We saw a little bit of tape from them from their game against Virginia Tech, and they're a solid team," Kerr said. "They have a lot of speed up front and we're concerned with that. They're a good solid team, and they're hard-working."
On the other end of the pitch, sophomore goaltender Alex Bono has allowed just six goals on the season, posting 23 saves en route to three shutouts.
As Duke prepares to take on the first of its three new conference foes, it will be reminded that expansion is not making the ACC any easier.
"They get men around the ball and they're definitely difficult to beat," Kerr said. "We have our work cut out for us."