The Blue Devils came close to orchestrating their second straight comeback, but an overtime goal crushed those hopes.
Goals from Brian White and Brody Huitema brought Duke back from a 2-0 deficit after halftime, but No. 7 Notre Dame had the last laugh, winning 3-2 Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium in South Bend, Ind., on a golden goal by Jeffrey Farina.
After five matches, the Blue Devils remain winless in conference play and must improve their numbers in their next six contests—which include two ACC tilts at home—to avoid being left out of the postseason.
“I’m disappointed for our players because they gave 110 percent and played really really well over the course of the game and deserved at least a tie out of the match,” Duke head coach John Kerr told GoDuke.com.
The Blue Devils (5-5-2, 0-4-1 in the ACC) found themselves trailing early in the opening period as Patrick Hodan scored his second goal of the season in the 15th minute. The Fighting Irish midfielder made the best out of a mistake from the Duke defense and broke the scoreless deadlock from inside the box. Notre Dame (8-2-3, 3-1-1) doubled its advantage in the 54th minute when Hodan netted his second goal of the afternoon with a 25-yard free kick.
“[After their second goal,] it seems that the team said, ‘Okay, we are going to start playing now.’ It’s not that we were dominating only in the second half but we were hanging in there,” Kerr said. “We worked for our comeback and then we got some confidence going on and played extremely well in the second half and we even deserved a third goal.”
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In the 58th minute, White trimmed the Fighting Irish’s lead to 2-1—finishing an inviting cross from the right flank of the field with a header into the back of the net.
With 16 minutes left to play in regulation, Duke found the equalizer it had been looking for. Huitema executed a free kick just a couple of yards outside the box and Notre Dame goalkeeper Chris Hubbard did not react on time to block the junior's low shot.
“To be honest, [Huitema] has been doing some finishing on his own but we haven’t been playing with him taking the free kicks,” Kerr said. “So he must have seen something. He kind of looked at the wall and saw a bit of a window to get [the ball] around the wall to the far post.”
Duke outshot the Fighting Irish 11-10 during regulation, but the Blue Devils only registered one overtime attempt in their bid to pull off the upset. Notre Dame notched the winning goal six minutes into overtime when Farina connected on a header from six yards after a corner kick.
“We played extremely well for a long period of the game and a win could straight back the order again," Kerr said. "Going forward, we’ve got to get results and the players know that.”
The Blue Devils return to action Tuesday evening, when they host Holy Cross at Koskinen Stadium in a nonconference matchup.