Looking to rebound from a crunch-time loss to North Carolina in the ACC semifinal, the Duke men’s soccer team will begin its hunt for a national title Sunday

The sixth-seeded Blue Devils will take on Pacific at 6 p.m. Sunday at Koskinen Stadium. Two Blue Devils, sophomore Will Pulisic and junior Brandon Williamson, are coming off ACC all-tournament honors and will try to carry that momentum deep into the postseason. 

Duke’s usually prolific offense, led by all-ACC selection Daniele Proch and ACC Rookie of the Year Issa Rayyan, will need to regain its rhythm for a deep postseason run. The Blue Devils have scored just one goal in regulation between their last two games and they found only 10 shots against the Tar Heels, five less than their season average. A larger factor in the loss to North Carolina however, was Duke's inability to finish the looks they did get.

Despite not capitalizing on these opportunities, the Blue Devils certainly closed the game stronger than they started—all 10 of their shot attempts came in the second half. This is a stark contrast to their usual first-half surges that have produced 17 of their goals this season. Duke has yet to win a match when trailing at the half this season.

The Tigers are fresh off a 1-0 opening round win over UC Riverside on Thursday night in their third straight NCAA tournament campaign and fourth in school history. Pacific’s ledger this season boasts several wins against top 25 teams, most notably Stanford this September. The Tigers’ 1-0 away victory handed the defending champs their first loss in almost a year and broke their 21-match winning streak. 

Sunday’s matchup in Durham marks the first time these two programs will face off, but the unfamiliarity stops there for the Blue Devils. Duke has made 27 NCAA tournaments in school history and found itself in this same situation a year ago—the No. 6 seed in the tournament hosting a second round game. 

Last year’s run ended in the Round of 16 8-7 loss to Fordham in penalty kicks, but if Duke can get its high-powered offense back in swing, it is well positioned to improve on last year’s results.