No. 11 Duke travels to Chapel Hill Saturday for a much-anticipated clash against the Tar Heels. The Blue Zone takes a look at which player from each side could make the biggest impact at Dorrance Field:
Duke: Julian Eyestone
If the Blue Devils hope to bounce back from their recent defeat against Clemson, then it is vital that they play defensively against an attacking-minded North Carolina side.
The Tar Heels have been on a tear lately, scoring twelve goals across seven games and recording 19 shots against then-No. 10 Notre Dame last week. To stop the North Carolina attack, freshman goalkeeper Julian Eyestone must be a brick wall for Duke’s defense.
It is not that the Blue Devils’ back line has been lacking – Duke kept clean sheets in half of the games it played this season – but rather that Eyestone has been a prominent force in the net. The Dallas, Texas, native has already made 16 saves with an impressive save percentage of .762. The freshman’s immense impact on the team earned him ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors earlier this month. Eyestone has also played all 540 minutes for the Blue Devils, establishing himself as head coach John Kerr’s first-choice goalie and a perfect replacement to the now-graduated Eliot Hamill.
Should the Texas product continue his fine form of making crucial saves, he could very well deny the Tar Heels of scoring against Duke at all. This will be difficult, of course, but the solid centerback pairing of sophomore Kamran Acito and senior Antino Lopez in front of the freshman would make his job much easier.
If the Blue Devils can master a solid defense with Eyestone at the helm, Duke has a chance to regain its earlier form and triumph over its biggest rivals.
North Carolina: Quenzi Huerman
If North Carolina wants to get past the Blue Devils’ defense, Quenzi Huerman would be the man most likely to break through.
The 6-foot graduate transfer hails from Vannes, France and played at Seton Hall before coming to Chapel Hill. In his senior season as a Pirate, he started all 18 games and led the team with seven goals, four assists and 36 shots.
His transition to the ACC has been seamless, scoring five goals and providing three assists in his six outings for the Tar Heels so far. Huerman’s tallies also account for the most goals scored by a North Carolina player at this time of the season since Billy Schuler in 2011. His tally of 21 shots this season ranks first within his team, which includes an incredible feat of seven shots against the Fighting Irish. No other Tar Heel player has managed that many shots in a single game since August 2021.
The French graduate student is bound to score more goals if he keeps on taking so many chances. Huerman could be a potent threat to Duke’s back four and cause chaos for their defenders. That being said, he will be squaring off against Acito, the 2022 ACC Freshman of the Year. However, if the North Carolina forward does manage an early goal against the Blue Devils on home soil, the Tar Heels’ momentum may prove too much for Duke.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.