In the heart of a four games in 10 days stretch and coming off an emotional upset win at then-No. 11 Syracuse, Duke knew it had to settle down and take care of business in a nonconference home matchup. 

And after an uneven first half, it did just that.

The 19th-ranked Blue Devils beat Appalachian State 1-0 Tuesday night at Koskinen Stadium. Duke was bolstered by its stifling defense, which held the Mountaineers to just three shots all match and none in the second half. Senior Brian White also continued his standout season, notching the lone goal midway through the second half.

“Obviously, we needed that,” Blue Devil head coach John Kerr said. “We needed that little break to get 1-0 on the score line and make the breakthrough. I thought Coach O’Keefe and their Appalachian State boys were great tonight, and they worked their tails out and made it really difficult for us.”

The first half was a slow affair, with neither team creating many chances. Duke (7-1-1) dominated possession and spent most of the half parked in Mountaineer territory, but could not test goalkeeper Jake Chasteen.

Appalachian State (3-5-1) had the best chance of the half in the 10th minute when after winning the ball in the Blue Devils’ half, it quickly broke toward the goal. A cross was headed back toward the top of the box from the back post, but the resulting shot was smashed high, not challenging Duke freshman goalkeeper Will Pulisic.

Kerr had a simple message for his team at halftime.

“Try to play a little bit more simply, keep it on the ground, make your angles early and get crosses into the box,” Kerr said.

The Blue Devils took the message to heart and almost scored off a corner within the first 10 minutes of the second half. Senior captain Markus Fjørtoft had a thunderous header cleared off the goal line by a defender after it beat the diving Chasteen. 

The pressure continued and finally paid off in the 59th minute. White received the ball on the right side outside the box and cut inside before firing a shot toward the near post that found the back of the net. It was White’s sixth goal of the campaign, already surpassing his total from last season. 

The real star of the game was Duke’s defense, though. The veteran-laden group shut down the Mountaineers' attack, as the Blue Devils held a massive 19-3 edge in shots taken. Only one of those three shots was on target, giving Pulisic little to do all game. He notched his third shutout of the season, also besting last year's mark for the team, and Duke's seven wins matches its total from 2016. 

“We talked a lot in the offseason about the downfall of our team last year,” senior defender Kevon Black said. “A lot of that was giving up easy goals. We decided that this year, we were going to make a positive effort to get back to the basics of defending, and a lot of that comes with communication.”

The Blue Devils had a largely comfortable time after taking the lead, as Appalachian State never truly threatened. Duke's defense broke up attacks, and its offense held possession to tire out the opposition.

“Our defense is resilient and they’re solid,” Kerr said. “We made one or two errors in the whole match defensively. I’m proud of them.”

The Blue Devils will have a short break, but will have to gear up for a much stiffer challenger this weekend. No. 8 Louisville comes to Durham Saturday for a ranked ACC matchup and will hope to hand Blue Devils their first loss at Koskinen Stadium all season.