DURHAM, N.C.—The Duke men’s soccer team officially returns to action Wednesday morning. The Blue Devils open training in the morning and will train for three days before hosting their first exhibition.
The Blue Devils begin the 2019 campaign ranked 10th in the United Soccer Coaches preseason top 25. Duke finished last season ranked 11th with an 11-7-2 overall record. Seven ACC programs are among the top 25 teams with the Blue Devils sitting behind just North Carolina, Wake Forest and Notre Dame.
Looking at the Preseason Schedule
Duke, featuring a roster of 23 this season, kicks off preseason with fitness testing and a few small-sided games in the morning. The Blue Devils will train two times per day for the first three days, building up towards the first of three exhibition games against South Carolina Saturday evening at 5 p.m. Admission is free as the Gamecocks travel to Durham after posting a 7-10 record a year ago.
The Blue Devils will take a trip to beach to take on UNC Wilmington for a second outing Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. The Seahawks finished the 2018 campaign with a 12-5-3 record and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament, falling to Furman in the opening round in a penalty kick shootout.
Duke rounds out the preseason slate against Coastal Carolina Aug. 23 at 7:30 p.m. The Chanticleers are coming off of a 10-6 season and features a group of 16 newcomers, including eight freshmen, to the program.
Head coach John Kerr welcomes five newcomers to the program in 2019. Among the group are a pair of fifth-year transfers in Sergi Nus from Virginia and Hassan Pinto of Elon. Nus missed last season with the Cavaliers to injury and will finish out his eligibility with the Blue Devils. A Durham native, Pinto redshirted for the Phoenix in 2015 and is currently enrolled in the Master of Management Studies program at the Duke Fuqua School of Business.
Joining the veterans are freshmen Cameron Kerr, Kees Heetderks and Scotty Taylor. Kerr, son of head coach John Kerr and Heetderks are Chapel Hill natives, while Taylor hails from Millburn, N.J., most recently. Taylor, however, has ties to the Triangle, as he played for the North Carolina FC U14 squad for a season.
Senior Daniele Proch is one of 36 players selected to the 2019 Hermann Trophy Watch List. The Blue Devils’ top scorer from a year ago is one of five players from the ACC and one of six 2018 semifinalists on the list. He looks to build on his breakout junior season in which he earned All-ACC first team honors and All-America second team recognition.
Williamson Spends Time with DC United
Senior midfielder and the engine to Duke’s offense, Brandon Williamson, spent the first half of the summer training with DC United. The Blue Devils are anticipating a fantastic final season for the DC United Academy with the experience of training with the first team bolstering his play. An All-ACC second team pick in 2018, Williamson makes Duke’s offense run. His ability to distribute and see the field as well as defend in the middle is irreplaceable. Kerr and the Blue Devils expect big things from Williamson this year.