CLEMSON, S.C.—Redshirt senior Tomas Coulter registered his first career goal in the 78th minute to lift the Blue Devils to a thrilling 1-0 victory over Clemson to close out the regular season. The victory puts Duke into the ACC Men’s Soccer Tournament as the No. 7 seed.
The Blue Devils will take on second-seeded and No. 1 Notre Dame Tuesday, Nov. 11 in Notre Dame, Ind. in the ACC Quarterfinals. Duke extends its unbeaten streak to eight games dating back to Oct. 1, while the Blue Devils’ shutout streak is now at 194:26.
“I’m really proud of how we came out tonight and played with a high level of intensity for 90 minutes,” said head coach John Kerr. “It wasn’t the prettiest win, but we knew a win would be huge for us and we got it done tonight.”
Neither team was able to establish consistent possession in the opening 15 minutes as the squads were feeling each other out. Clemson had the better of play early on before the Blue Devils started to build a rhythm.
Duke, pushing the pace in search of the game’s first goal, generated the game’s first few shots with none of the early looks particularly dangerous. Junior Nick Palodichuk had the best chance of the night for the Blue Devils with just over 20 minutes remaining as Brody Huitema found the junior forward on the left side of the penalty area. Palodichuk collected the ball on his left foot, but Clemson did well to recover and block the ball wide.
Active in the midfield for Clemson, Thomas McNamara nearly made it 1-0 in the 28th minute when he got in behind the defense for a good look on Duke goalkeeper Long. McNamara tried to slot it to the right post, but Long came off his line and got a hand on it to keep the game scoreless.
After weathering pressure and a near goal by Clemson, Duke senior center back Sebastien Ibeagha nearly but the Blue Devils up 1-0 as his header off a corner kick sailed just over the crossbar. Duke continued to push forward and finally broke through with 22:53 minute on a Tomas Coulter goal.
With Duke carrying momentum, Sean Davis served a long ball from just over midfield deep into Clemson’s penalty area. Huitema headed the ball down to Coulter at the 12-yard spot and the redshirt senior lifted the ball over his head and into the left corner of the net.
The Tigers regained some momentum in the waning minutes after going up a man, but Duke’s stalwart backline was outstanding to secure its eighth shutout of the season. Long finished with four saves in the game for his seventh shutout of the year and his 14th of the year.
Both squads finished with 11 shots apiece, while Clemson had a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks. Tiger keeper Andrew Tarbell made two saves in 90 minutes of action.