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Duke men's soccer aims to bounce back in home-opener against N.C. State

Senior forward Daniel Wright notched one of Duke's two goals in its season-opening loss at Kentucky.
Senior forward Daniel Wright notched one of Duke's two goals in its season-opening loss at Kentucky.

Coming off a season-opening loss at Kentucky, Duke will look to bounce back on its home field.

The Blue Devils return to Durham to take on N.C. State this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Koskinen Stadium. Looking back to its opener, Duke controlled the game early but couldn’t keep up the intensity, with two second-half Wildcat goals making the difference. Despite the defeat, there were a lot of positives for this young Blue Devil team.

“Our team had great work ethic and were very mobile during the game,” head coach John Kerr said. “We are a very talented, young team. It takes time to build chemistry and that's what we look to do.”

Last season, the Blue Devils finished 7-9-2 overall and 2-5-1 in the ACC, their season ending with a first-round loss to the Wolfpack in the ACC tournament. However, Duke features a very young and exciting team this season—Kerr played seven freshmen against Kentucky, starting five.

Although the first half of this past Monday’s game looked significantly better statistically for the Blue Devils (0-1), their second half was just as competitive, with a multitude of goal scoring opportunities. Although the team was never able to execute on those chances, Duke showed a lot of grit and skills that will hopefully carry into Saturday’s contest as well. 

On the other side, N.C. State is also looking to bounce back after losing its opening scrimmage 1-0 to North Carolina. Despite the low-scoring affair, it’s the Wolfpack’s offense that the Blue Devils will need to focus on containing, specifically freshman Pau Palacin and junior Kuda Muskwe. The latter tied for the team lead with five goals last season, including the difference-maker in N.C. State’s ACC tournament win against Duke.

“N.C. State is a great team, Kerr said. “When they played UNC they were defending, but they were dangerous on set pieces and very dangerous on the counter attack.”

Overall, Duke and N.C. State are two tough teams looking to turn the page on their previous losses, and this weekend's match could be the first indicator of who will turn the tide and become a serious ACC contender.

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