After taking down a second top-10 opponent in eight days Friday, the Blue Devils took a step back with a disappointing loss.

Despite controlling a majority of the match, No. 14 Duke fell to High Point 1-0 on a rainy Tuesday night at Koskinen Stadium. Junior Ilias Kosmidis scored the sole goal of the match for the Panthers in the 26th minute with a well-placed penalty into the bottom right corner that sent sophomore goalkeeper Will Pulisic the wrong way after a foul on the edge of the box by senior Ciaran McKenna. On the other hand, the Blue Devils struggled to get anything going offensively during the match.

“[We need to] finish, execute, and score,” Duke head coach John Kerr said. “We didn’t execute on a number of opportunities that we presented ourselves with so that’s disappointing, but we weren’t at our best tonight.”

The Panthers’ high press stifled Duke’s attempts at moving up the pitch, but the Blue Devils were eventually able to break it. Ian Murphy finally got off a high cross, which flashed across goal, but it wasn’t met and was eventually cleared. High Point (11-2-0) responded quickly, mounting sustained pressure on the Duke defense and nearly capitalized on a defensive turnover, but couldn’t manage a shot on target.

The next few minutes of the first period saw the Blue Devils’ up their attack, and they were eventually rewarded with a corner kick that resulted in their first shot of the game from sophomore Daniel Wright. Just after that, junior Max Moser fired a free kick that was deflected just wide, giving Duke another corner that was dealt with by the Panthers. The Blue Devils continued to pour crosses into the box but were unable to convert any of them into goals.

Kerr believes that had Duke converted one of their chances, they may have been able to establish a strong foothold in the match. 

“These are big moments that if you get one you can get another couple, because your confidence grows,” Kerr said. “We just may be a little sloppy and a little tired and we didn’t finish off the chances.”

After dealing with several Duke corners in the box, High Point launched an attack of their own down the wings, earning the penalty that would win them the game. After the goal, the Panthers upped their intensity, pushing all the way up the field in an attempt to harass the Blue Devils into turnovers. However, Duke (8-4-1) was able to put together a series of short passes that saw them break away up the field, culminating in a dangerous header from freshman Seth Kuhn that floated just over the crossbar. 

The next few minutes saw both sides exchange possession without creating any threatening chances. As the game turned into a midfield battle, the match became chippier, with both sides totaling 16 fouls in the first period. The Blue Devils closed out the last five minutes of the half with more momentum, and in the 43rd minute, Moser found space in the box to fire a driven shot on target that took an unlucky bounce off the inside of the left crossbar into the hands of Panthers goalkeeper Keegan Meyer. 

The second half saw Duke begin to dominate possession, applying constant pressure in the final third. High Point struggled to manufacture any offense, with only a handful of sporadic counterattacking moves during the second half that were dealt with comfortably by the Blue Devils in an effort led by freshman Aedan Stanley, who had a key block as the Panthers looked to be clear on goal. 

Head coach John Kerr was pleased with the team’s defensive effort.

“We were fine,” he said of the defense. “We were in control most of the game.”

Duke continued to win corner kicks, but High Point was able to deal with the entirety of the Blue Devil attack. The next 30 minutes featured good passing actions around the box from Duke. Freshman Issa Rayyan caused serious problems for the Panthers defense with his darting runs along the right wing as the team sought to get the ball to junior Daniele Proch, who has scored eleven goals this season. However, the Blue Devils could not find a good final product, with several wayward shots and crosses producing nothing more than goal kicks. 

The match closed at a frantic pace, with Duke desperate to draw level. Several of a series of final shots near the box were deflected or were sent wide, and when the final whistle blew, the Blue Devils had attempted twenty shots, but only two were on target. 

High Point was one of several difficult opponents the Blue Devils have faced in recent matches.

“One of the things…in their advantage was they had a weekend off,” Kerr noted. “We played a lot of big games lately, so it’s hard to be consistent over a long period of time and we’ll bounce back and we’ll recover and get ready for Friday night.”

Duke will look to shake off Tuesday’s defeat with another match Friday at home against Pittsburgh at 7 p.m.