A week removed from a decisive win against then-No. 10 Virginia, Duke entered its matchup Friday looking to add another top-10 victory to its resume.
Thanks to the Blue Devils’ high-octane offense, No. 17 Duke came back from a 2-1 deficit to upset ninth-ranked Notre Dame 3-2 Friday at Koskinen Stadium. The Blue Devils made the opposing goalkeeper work, getting off 12 shots on goal, while the Fighting Irish played the counterattack, which resulted in only four shots on goal and a worn-out defense. Duke junior midfielder Daniele Proch continued his hot streak, scoring his 11th goal in 12 games. That goal also turned out to be the game-winner.
In the eighth minute, Proch, surrounded by two Notre Dame defenders in the box, slipped the ball to sophomore forward Daniel Wright, who broke through to the penalty spot and slotted it in the lower right corner to give the Blue Devils an early advantage. This marked the first goal the Fighting Irish allowed in the first half in ACC play this season.
“It was good that we came out pressing really fast,” Wright said. “I don’t think they expected that right off the front, but when we got that first goal, we had all the momentum.”
That momentum soon shifted, though, when Notre Dame (7-4-1, 3-2 in the ACC) responded just seven minutes later. A header from the leading Fighting Irish goalscorer—fifth-year defender Patrick Berneski—off a corner kick from senior forward Sean MacLeod tied the score. MacLeod then scored a goal of his own, a powerful strike from just outside the box, putting the Blue Devils (8-3-1, 3-2 in the ACC) on the back foot once again. Freshman defender Ian Murphy and junior midfielder Brandon Williamson had great opportunities to score, but each shot was stopped Notre Dame goalkeeper Ryan Krutz, who recorded nine saves on the day.
Near the end of the first half, Duke earned a free kick from 20 yards out. Sophomore midfielder Kristofer Gardarsson swung the ball into the body of sophomore defender Matthias Frick, who nudged the ball past Krutz. The play was initially called a goal, and though video review provided skeptical evidence to support that claim, the call was upheld. The game went into halftime knotted at 2-2.
The second half was more of the same from the Blue Devils. Duke maintained possession for long stretches of time, but was unable to convert on several chances. Freshman midfielder Issa Rayyan couldn’t finish in transition, and another shot from Murphy from close in sailed over the bar. The previous four matchups between the Blue Devils and Fighting Irish had gone to overtime, but Proch ensured it wouldn’t happen again Friday. In the 61st minute, Murphy saved a long cross from rolling out of bounds and tapped it to Proch. Proch’s powerful left-footed volley gave the Blue Devils the lead for good.
“They had a good press in the first half, trying to catch us in the back,” head coach John Kerr said. “We just got some more numbers in the build, and we were able to get through it. Once we get through it, we have dangerous players, so we caused a lot of havoc in their final third.”
The Fighting Irish have been successful in their set pieces this season, which Kerr knew and had his team prepared for. Still, Notre Dame nearly equalized off a free kick in the 79th minute, but sophomore goalkeeper Will Pulisic managed to deflect the ball over the crossbar. That was the only major chance for the Irish in the second half, as Duke maintained possession throughout nearly the entire period.
“In the second half, we were the better team by far," Kerr said. "We could have scored a few more goals."
Although the Blue Devils’ offense was on display Friday, its finishing wasn’t as clinical is it could have been. With only four games left in the regular season, Duke must become more efficient in the box to have a chance to take home its first ACC championship since 2006. The Blue Devils’ next test will be against High Point Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Koskinen Stadium. For now, though, they can take pride in their fourth straight victory.
“It’s everything we could ask for,” Wright said. “We had a big win against Virginia last Friday, a good win on Tuesday, and this is just icing on the cake.”
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