It was an all too familiar situation for Duke: down two goals and one man early in the first half. The last time the Blue Devils were in this situation against Wisconsin, they turned things around to get a win, but against Clemson, the nightmare just continued.
The No. 11 Tigers knocked off the 16th-ranked Blue Devils 4-1, handing Duke its second home loss of the year and snapping its three-game winning streak. Duke dug itself into a 2-0 hole midway through the first half and cut into the deficit with a goal, but a Blue Devil red card just before the halftime break changed it all.
Duke rookie Matthias Frick was sent off for the third time this season, resulting in an automatic three-game suspension, when he donkey-kicked Clemson forward Diego Campos with three minutes left in the first half. Blue Devil midfielder Cody Brinkman received a yellow card off the same play for arguing with the referee.
“We bounced back in the game after getting a goal back halfway through the first half,” Duke head coach John Kerr said. “The red card changed the whole point late in the second half and obviously put us behind the eight ball in the second half.”
The trouble started for Duke (10-3-1, 3-3-0 in the ACC) early in the game when Clemson’s first of 11 first half shots came within minutes of the opening whistle. The Tigers broke through in the 20th minute when Campos, who finished with a hat trick, received a pass from senior midfielder Oliver Shannon on the right side and scored from 12 yards out into the bottom left corner.
Clemson (10-3-0, 3-3-0) left no time for the Blue Devils to adjust to the deficit, as its second goal came a little more than five minutes after its first. Wright passed the ball off to Campos—the Tigers' second-leading scorer—for a clean shot from the middle of the penalty box into the left corner again.
Things starting looking up for Duke in the 38th minute, with leading scorer Brian White tallying his ninth goal of the season. A pass from sophomore substitute Suniel Veerakone found Daniel Wright, who was slide-tackled by the goalie in the box. The ball bounced back and White came up from behind to put the Blue Devils on the scoreboard.
“The guys that came off the bench gave us a significant lift,” Kerr said. “It was good for them to get more of a run out and good for us to see where they are and see where they can help us going forward.”
At the start of the second half, Duke was down a player after losing Frick to the red card and still down a goal. The Blue Devils never mustered much of a comeback attempt, coming up with just one more shot compared to Clemson’s ten in the second half. The Tigers outshot the Blue Devils 21-10 in the match.
Clemson took advantage of the man advantage and scored two more goals after the break to post the most goals Duke has given up in a game this season. Campos completed his hat trick seven minutes into the second half when a pass from Blue Devil defender Max Moser intended for goalkeeper Will Pulisic instead found the foot of Campos, who finished it off past Duke defender Markus Fjørtoft’s attempt to defend the goal.
Clemson’s fourth goal of the night came a mere three minutes later, when senior midfielder Saul Chinchilla converted a pass from teammate Michael Melvin.
The Blue Devils could not come up with anything to put them back on the scoreboard for the rest of the game.
“We have some good approach work, but we need to be more to the point like Clemson was tonight,” Kerr said. “We’ve got to learn maybe from other people’s successes.”
Duke will now go on the road again to face No. 7 Notre Dame Oct. 20 before returning home for its final two home games of the regular season against Delaware and No. 10 Virginia.
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