DURHAM, N.C.—Duke tallied a goal in each half and secured its first shutout in a 2-0 blanking of UCF to kick off the 2017 men’s soccer season. Sophomore Ciaran McKenna and senior Markus Fjørtoft netted the goals for the Blue Devils.
The season-opening shutout is the first for the Blue Devils since 2010 as rookie goalkeeper Will Pulisic scored his first clean sheet. Pulisic finished the night with four saves as Duke held the Knights to just seven shots overall in the game.
“I’m happy with the win No. 1,” said head coach John Kerr. “I’m happy with the shutout No. 2. They’re a good disciplined team and the coaches have done a great job in a short amount of time in getting them organized. The second half things opened up for us and I’m happy overall for our group.”
Duke (1-0-0) came out strong to open the game, controlling the run of play and pressing forward for an early goal. The Blue Devils’ nearly went up 1-0 in the 37th minute with a beautiful buildup through the midfield into the offensive third.
Brandon Williamson did well to get the ball out to the right flank for a service to the back post on Wright’s foot. The rookie’s shot was just off the mark, landing at the feet of Brian White for the score. The senior striker, however, was just a step behind the defense and whistled for offside.
Just over eight minutes later, Duke’s substitutions paid off as Veerakone got open on the left side and sent a ball into the box where McKenna was able to put it in the back of the net for the 1-0 lead with 35 seconds left in the opening period.
UCF (0-1-0) came out strong to the start the second half, putting the Blue Devils on their heels a bit and controlling the run and pace of play. Duke, weathered the brief letdown, and regained its composure and started to wear down the Knights and find the open spaces on the field.
Senior Cameron Moseley had a few dangerous opportunities, but UCF keeper Yannik Oettl made quality saves to keep the game at 1-0. Oettl finished with six saves in the second half.
After taking numerous corner kicks throughout the second half, Duke finally capitalized in the 83rd minute on a corner kick service from Wright. The Wixom, Mich., native found the head of Frick 15 yards from goal. Frick headed the ball to Fjørtoft, who headed it home for his first tally of the year and a 2-0 lead.
Overall, Duke outshot the Knights by a 15-7 count. Oettl posted eight saves in his 90 minutes of action. Five rookies started for the Blue Devils with each playing at least 43 minutes.
The Blue Devils return to action Sunday, Aug. 27 at 2:30 p.m., against Fordham.