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No. 9 Duke men's soccer drops overtime battle against No. 23 Clemson

Junior Scotty Taylor tallied a goal and an assist in Duke's overtime loss to Clemson.
Junior Scotty Taylor tallied a goal and an assist in Duke's overtime loss to Clemson.

Duke men’s soccer lost a close one to Clemson at home in overtime.

While Duke fought hard to the end of the game, a sudden goal with nine minutes remaining in overtime led to the Blue Devils’ first loss at home, ending the game 3-2. After suffering its first loss of the season last week at Pittsburgh, Duke entered Friday night’s matchup standing at No. 9 on the poll. 

Throughout the game, Nick Pariano and Shakur Mohammed served as the team’s main facilitators, carrying the ball past the defenders and setting up many different chances for the rest of the team to score within the goal box. 

“They’re smart players, very aware of their surroundings,” head coach John Kerr said, “They know how to connect the other players and get them into positions. Really the two dynamic guys leading the offense and they’ve done a great job.”

The second half marked the beginning of the game’s climax. With 36 minutes remaining, Clemson’s Ousmane Sylla made the first goal of the night, cutting in from the back with a clutch kick. Suddenly trailing, Duke reinvigorated its offense after forward Scotty Taylor was tripped up while catching a fast break spanning across half of the field. Midfielder Peter Stroud made the penalty kick with 28 minutes left, tying the game at 1-1. 

Fifteen minutes later, however, Clemson’s Hamady Diop scored the second goal of the night for Clemson, regaining the one-point lead. While Duke’s first two shots after the deficit fell short, within a minute remaining in regulation, Taylor made the goal that sent the game into overtime off assists from Pariano and Peter Stroud. However, the shot by Clemson’s Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador a minute into overtime led to a sudden victory for the Tigers, undermining Duke’s two clutch comebacks.

While the two clutch goals were highlights of the game, it was the defensive efforts from goalkeeper Eliot Hamill, who saved the ball three times under 10 minutes during the second half, that made the comebacks possible. 

“He's been a stalwart all season long,” Kerr said, “Made some huge saves and kept us in the game. It’s a shame of what happened at the very end, but he has done a great job for us and we just gotta put this one behind us.”

Entering the game, both teams took a rather conservative approach. Clemson began the game by taking a larger number of shots, and Duke was able to find its defensive identity early on through keeping these attempts further away from the goal box. As the game approached the end of the first half, however, the Blue Devils (9-3 4-2 in the ACC) found their offensive identity, as players of the team selflessly set up multiple chances for a shot inside the goal box. 

While the team is now in need of a bounce-back win, the quality of the opponent also cannot be overlooked.

Standing at No. 23, Clemson (10-3,4-2) is on top of ACC Atlantic despite suffering an 0-2 home loss a week ago against Notre Dame. Finishing last season at 14-3-3, the Tigers entered this season with high expectations and have been a force this season.

While the loss was tough, it was still a valuable lesson for the team to learn as the players move onto future games, the next of which is Tuesday against Furman. 

“We've had a lot of heart to come back in these circumstances” Kerr said. “[I] think we have to take care of the ball a little better and possess it a little bit longer, and get a little bit closer together in our attack…. We need to use each other in these kinds of [situations].”

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