They say the devil is in the details. But in Durham, the Blue Devils are in the details — and numbers:
Last Friday evening, No. 21 Duke men’s soccer took all the right shots and made them too, turning the tables to come back and defeat No. 7 Syracuse 5-3.
It all started Tuesday, when the Blue Devils secured a 3-2 win against College of Charleston, a feat led by an Ajago-Pariano duo. A win for Duke did not seem likely at the 80-minute mark, down 2-1 to the Cougars, but graduate student Forster Ajago made quick work of the point difference, churning out two goals in rapid succession to add to senior Nick Pariano’s first-half penalty score.
A few days later, Koskinen Stadium watched on as the Blue Devils beat the Orange. In an exhilarating eight-goal game, the visitors wasted no time, off of a corner kick within the first five minutes. Soon afterwards, Pariano got Duke started with another first-half penalty score, followed right up by Ajago’s ninth goal of the season. Freshman Ulfur Bjornsson then joined in with a header to put the Blue Devils up 3-1 at halftime. Six shots and one Syracuse goal later, Pariano scored once again in impressive fashion, sliding a free kick below the feet of a mid-jump Syracuse defensive wall. Junior Ruben Mesalles solidified the Duke win, netting the team’s fifth goal in the 81st minute.
After two ACC losses in a row, the wins against Syracuse and College of Charleston are a much-needed wave of momentum for the Blue Devils, one that they hope to surf Friday against No. 15 Notre Dame.
Can’t stop, won’t stop. With back-to-back shutouts against Wake Forest and William & Mary last weekend, No. 4 Duke field hockey has won eight games in a row, only one away from their nine-game record from 2003. In the 3-0 win against the Demon Deacons, sophomore Alaina McVeigh extended her scoring streak, while junior Kira Curland and senior Charlie van Oirschot added goals of their own. Then, in Sunday’s 1-0 victory, junior Josephine Palde had the lone goal, bringing the Blue Devils to a total of eight different players with a game-winning goal this season. On the defensive side, senior goalkeeper Piper Hampsch recorded her fourth solo shutout of the season. Duke now has five shutouts this fall, its highest since 2019. Next Friday, the team will travel to face No. 7 Virginia before taking a visit to James Madison Sunday.
In her first collegiate start, junior Dienyaba Ndaw also happened to score her first-ever goal, keeping the team afloat despite a less-than-ideal gameday roster. It was a game of ones in more ways than one, as the Blue Devils tied the Cavaliers 1-1. The match began slowly, with just five shots in the first 45 minutes, and none of them were on goal. However, that changed swiftly at the start of the second half, when senior Maggie Graham got ahold of the ball, driving forward and crossing it to sophomore superstar Kat Rader, who set up Ndaw to blast a shot into net. Unrelenting, the Cavaliers fired back within minutes in the form of sophomore Maggie Cagle, who evened out the score at the 53:06 mark. In addition to seniors Emily Royson, Olivia Migli and Grace Watkins missing the match due to injury, Duke head coach Robbie Church was also out with illness. Nevertheless, the Blue Devils pressed on, matching Virginia’s total of nine shots and finishing the game with two saves by senior goalkeeper Leah Freeman.
Coming off of its 0-0 finish against NC State last week, Duke has now tied two straight matchups in the ACC, a trend it hopes to break when it faces Pittsburgh on the road Thursday.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.