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Duke men's soccer falls late once again, this time to No. 2 Wake Forest

After missing all of 2019 due to injury, graduate student Jack Doran has been a mainstay for Duke's offense this season.
After missing all of 2019 due to injury, graduate student Jack Doran has been a mainstay for Duke's offense this season.

After a grueling battle, Duke suffered another close loss against a top-ranked team.

Exactly a week after an overtime 2-1 defeat to No. 3 Clemson, the Blue Devils took on No. 2 Wake Forest at Koskinen Stadium Friday night, ultimately falling 2-1 once again.

Although the Blue Devils fell short late, the team put up a solid fight throughout Friday's contest, outshooting the Demon Deacons 18-8. 

“We have a young team and we’re getting better by the day and it's exciting looking forward. But at some point, we need to go beyond being a good team that performs well,” head coach John Kerr said. “We need to start getting results. We need to be more demanding of ourselves at certain parts of the game and make things happen [on] both sides.”

With the score knotted at 1-1 in the 85th minute, it looked inevitable that Duke was heading into a second straight overtime matchup. But then, the Demon Deacons were awarded a free kick, with sophomore Omar Hernandez shooting a rocket into the upper 90 and out of reach for Blue Devil goalie Will Pulisic.

“We got ourselves in great positions. We were very direct going into the final third,” Kerr said. “We caused so much havoc in the box and it’s just our finishing touch. We had our opportunities and we found a way not to score and allowed them to hang in there and they capitalized on a free kick late in the second half.”

Duke (2-4, 2-3 in the ACC) had difficulty breaking away in the first half, failing to convert on multiple scoring opportunities. After senior Daniel Wright’s shot went wide off the post in the 12th minute, freshman Antino Lopez had a great chance to score off the following corner kick. Lopez headed the cross in from close range, but Wake Forest goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg was perfectly positioned to make the save. 

Meanwhile, Wake Forest (5-1, 3-1) scored on its first shot of the night. In the 20th minute, sophomore Calvin Harris fired from just outside the 18, with the ball hitting the top crossbar and bouncing in to give the Demon Deacons a 1-0 lead that carried through halftime.

But the Blue Devils weren't going down without a fight, coming out firing in the second half after some needed adjustments.

Of Duke's 18 shots, 13 came in the final 45 minutes.

“We had to rearrange our press at halftime. It was okay, but we weren’t getting to places quick enough, so we allowed them too much space,” Kerr said. “Basically, it was a game of two halves—they had the first half and we had the second.”

After being out with an injury all week, graduate student Jack Doran brought the heat coming off the bench, notching his team-leading third goal of the season in the 71st minute to tie up the match 1-1.

“The goal we did score was a really good composed build up and calmly finished by Jack Doran,” Kerr said. “If we can have more of those opportunities and have some calmness in that area of the field, I think we’re going to do well.”

Not long after, however, Wake Forest put in the game-winner.

Duke has two games remaining in its regular-season schedule, with the first of those coming next Friday at Koskinen Stadium against No. 4 Kentucky.

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