After starting the season on a promising note—four consecutive wins and a 2-2 tie against defending national champion Virginia—the Blue Devils suffered their second straight loss this Friday.
Playing its first road game of the season, No. 16 Duke fell 2-1 to No. 14 Clemson Friday night at Historic Riggs Field in Clemson, S.C. The Blue Devils fell behind early but found an equalizer from senior Brian White in the 54th minute, only to see it erased as Tiger forward T.J. Casner answered back less than a minute later.
“I thought it was a game of two halves,” Duke head coach John Kerr told GoDuke.com. “I thought they clearly dominated the first half and I thought we were the best team in the second half. Our mentality wasn’t as good as it should’ve been for the start of the game. We should have been more intense. It’s almost like we were [caught] napping in the first half.”
Clemson (5-1-1, 1-1-0 in the ACC) had complete control of the game in the first 45 minutes, outshooting Duke 9-1. The Tigers—who entered the game averaging 2.3 goals per contest—did not waste much time getting started, breaking the scoreless draw in the 12th minute. Saul Chinchilla fed Oliver Shannon from outside the box and the Tiger midfielder notched his fourth goal of the season, sending the ball into the right bottom corner of the net.
Clemson manufactured several opportunities to extend its lead but its forwards missed the target and Blue Devil goalkeeper Wilson Fisher turned away strikes from Diego Campos and Michael Melvin.
Duke’s lone scoring chance in the opening period came from senior midfielder Ryan Thompson in the 21st minute, but Tiger goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell pulled off a save.
The Tigers had the first looks to double their lead early in the second half, but could not convert. The Blue Devils (4-2-1, 0-1-1) responded with a shot from freshman midfielder Torbjørn Alseth that went wide in the 49th minute.
Duke tied the game in the 54th minute thanks to a goal from sophomore midfielder Brian White, who finished a left-footed shot on a feed from Macario Hing-Glover for his second score of the season.
With the score knotted, everything seemed to start over again for the Blue Devils, but it was short-lived. Just 29 seconds after White’s score, Casner sealed the Tigers’ victory with his third goal of the season.
Despite outshooting Clemson 7-6 in the second half, the Blue Devils and their primary offensive weapons—sophomore forward Jeremy Ebobisse and senior midfielder Zach Matters—could not find another equalizer despite each getting two shots apiece after intermission.
Ebobisse—the team’s top scorer with five goals—had a chance in the 60th minute, but Tarbell tipped the ball over the bar to preserve the Clemson lead. With five minutes left, Ebobisse tried again, powering a shot that the Tiger goalkeeper could not stop, but a Clemson defender made sure the ball did not cross the line.
“It’s a bummer to have given a goal away so quickly after making a wonderful goal,” Kerr said. “It’s disappointing that we couldn’t keep [the tie] longer. We fought very hard to get back. To be fair, we still reacted in a positive way.”
The Blue Devils will look to capture their first ACC win next Friday, when they visit their Tobacco Road rival, No. 3 North Carolina, at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill. Duke upset the then-No. 1 Tar Heels 2-1 last season in Durham.
Published on Duke’s The Chronicle