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In Supporting Role, Sih Still Impresses

Photo by Max Masnick/The Chronicle

When Duke plays a game, the newspaper article the next day usually mentions senior Mike Grella for his offensive prowess or goalie Brendan Fitzgerald for making a spectacular save.

Sophomore Nick Sih is one of those players who doesn't make it into the paper after every match. He doesn't always make a splash on the stat sheet, either. Sih has three goals and one assist in the Blue Devils' up-and-down season—but his seven points don't tell the whole story for Duke, which was eliminated from the ACC tournament last night and is now waiting for the NCAA tournament to start.

It is hard to qualify him by position as sportswriters are apt to do: Forward Nick Sih? Defender Nick Sih? Right midfielder Nick Sih? You get the point.

In Duke's regular season match against Virginia Oct. 25, head coach John Kerr mentioned Sih as a tremendous force on the field. In that one game, he played right back, up front, out wide, and center midfield.

And Wednesday night against the Cavaliers, the 5-foot-8 sophomore seemed to be everywhere. Playing fluidly at times on the front line with Grella, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, and anchoring at right back in much of the second half, Sih brought the workmanlike presence the Blue Devils have come to rely on.

"Nick is one of our most versatile players... definitely a valuable player on this team," said senior defender Darrius Barnes, who heaped praise on Sih even after the postseason loss. "He's a workhorse. He's a small guy, but he gets up in the air to win balls. He's one of those guys that does the small things that don't really show up on the stat sheet, but he makes an impact on the game."

For the Blue Devils' second goal of the match Wednesday, the official record shows that Grella notched the score, with the assist coming from center midfielder Cole Grossman. It won't show how Sih jumped on a Virginia turnover at midfield, storming up the right side at full speed. It won't show how Sih pushed the ball ahead to Grossman, who then found Grella. The resulting goal won't have Sih's name on it at all, but it's certainly not because he doesn't deserve any credit.

With a good number of players expected to be sidelined for Duke's NCAA tournament match next week (in addition to the injuries, key players Grossman and Christian Ibeagha will sit out the game for a red card and accumulation of five yellow cards, respectively), it is even more vital that Sih shows up and continues to do all the little things.

The Blue Devils are counting on it.


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