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Weekend road trip gives Duke men's soccer chance at first top-10 win

<p>Cody Brinkman and the Blue Devil defense have given up just 11 goals in 11 games this year.</p>

Cody Brinkman and the Blue Devil defense have given up just 11 goals in 11 games this year.

Looking to ride the momentum of its 1-0 win against Elon, Duke hopes to reach the 10-win mark in a road trip to the north this weekend.

After a close loss to Louisville, No. 19 Duke will return to ACC play against Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. on Friday. Following that matchup, it will look for its first top-10 win of the year against No. 10 Georgetown, another team on the rise, on Monday in Washington.

“We can handle anybody [defensively]. We played [No.1] Indiana really closely, we tied them in the preseason," Blue Devil head coach John Kerr said. "We beat Syracuse away which is not easy, and we did a great job against Louisville the other night. We’re not afraid of anybody and we think that we can hang with anybody.” 

Georgetown boasts an impressive 7-1-1 record and a three-game winning streak heading into its clash with Duke. Pittsburgh (6-5-0, 1-3-0 in the ACC) may not have impressive a record, but its three most recent loses came against fellow ACC opponents Clemson, North Carolina and Wake Forest, all of which rank in the top five. Additionally, the Panthers upset No. 14 Columbia 1-0 in their last outing, and are surely looking to continue the upset magic against Duke.

For anyone watching the game against Elon, it was clear that the Blue Devils dominated from the start, with the exception of one dangerous free kick that the Phoenix couldn’t capitalize on. Duke’s slew of commanding victories is in large part thanks to a defense has been stout this season, allowing just 11 goals in as many games and posting four shutouts.

However, one area Duke (8-2-1, 2-2-0 in the ACC) needs to address is converting shots into goals, as the Blue Devils have tallied 177 shots this year. But Duke only has 21 goals to show for it, which amounts to less than a 12-percent conversion ratio.

“Hopefully if we keep winning that’s going to breed confidence, and I think hopefully we will let loose one day and score a bunch and keep it going," Kerr said. "I’m not too worried because we keep creating, it's just a matter of getting it in the net and finishing them, and hopefully that’s still to come. We’re saving ourselves for the big games."

Duke had 16 shots Saturday against Louisville and followed that with an 18-shot onslaught Tuesday night against Elon. In fact, Duke almost blew the game open, as it hit the crossbar twice, narrowly missing the opportunity for a 3-0 lead. 

“One of those goes in and it alleviates all the nervousness we have,” Kerr said.

Building off an impressive defense, Duke’s offense is generating a lot of pressure going into the weekend matchups, looking to finally convert its on-field offensive dominance to scoreboard successes.


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