COLLEGE PARK, Md.óFourth-ranked University of Maryland scored a goal in the fifth minute and made it stand up to get past No. 21 Duke, 1-0, in men’s ACC soccer action tonight at Ludwig Field. The Blue Devils played the final 60 minutes of the contest with just 10 players on the field.
Duke falls to 4-3-0 overall and 1-1-0 in conference play, while Maryland pushes its season record to 4-1-0 and its conference mark to 2-0-0. All three of Duke’s losses this season have come against teams ranked in the top five at the time.
"We actually played well tonight," head coach John Kerr said. "We had to sustain their onslaught of pressure in the first 10 minutes and then we started to get into a good offensive rhythm. We just weren't lucky enough to get a goal in the first half."
As both teams tried to find their rhythm in the opening minutes, Maryland created the first good scoring chance of the game. The Terrapins’ Jason Herrick won a loose ball in the Blue Devils’ defensive third, but his shot from the right side of the penalty box was blocked by senior goaltender Brendan Fitzgerald over the end line for a Maryland corner kick.
Matt Kassel stepped up to take the corner kick and served the ball to the middle of the box on Omar Gonzalez’s head. Gonzalez won the aerial battle and headed the ball to the near post past Fitzgerald for the 1-0 lead just 4:25 into the contest. The Terrapins came right back at the Blue Devils with a long range shot from Graham Zusi that Fitzgerald turned away for his second save of the game.
Duke started to get into its offensive rhythm after the opening 15 minutes as it was able to find the feet of their target players. The Blue Devils generated a good look when a long ball from the midfield found Mike Grella in the attacking third. Most dangerous with the ball at his feet, Grella turned the corner and got into the penalty area and slotted the ball back across the box, but a Terrapin defender was there to step just in front of Molinar to clear the ball out of danger. Moments later the Blue Devils won a corner kick for another good chance. Grella served the ball into the box and Darrius Barnes jumped over everyone to send a header just wide of the goal.
After it had gained some offensive momentum, Duke went down a man in the 31st minute after a red card. Maryland tried to take advantage of its man advantage right away, but Fitzgerald and the Duke defense was there to keep the Terps off the scoreboard. Fitzgerald stepped up with a save with about 10 minutes to play as he made a good reaction save to keep it 1-0. Just over a minute later, Maryland got in behind the Duke defense for a one-on-one with Fitzgerald. Senior defender Pavelid Castaneda angled back to force Casey Townsend into a tough angle and Fitzgerald came off his line to make his sixth save of the half.
The Blue Devils never let up as they pushed forward in the final eight minutes and forced the Terrapins to work to keep their 1-0 lead going into the break.
Despite playing a man short, the Blue Devils were able to create scoring chances in the second half, while keeping the Maryland offense in check. While the Terps controlled some of the run of play and possession, they never seemed to solve the Duke defense and get open looks at the net. Maryland had just two shots on goal compared to six in the opening 45 minutes.
Duke continued to go forward with the ball and looked to take advantage of counter attack opportunities, but was unable to connect in the final pass.
The Terps got a late look to seal the game, but senior Graham Dugoni touched the ball out of danger to keep the Blue Devils within striking distance in the final few minutes. Maryland was able to kill the game as time went off the clock and came away with the 1-0 victory over the Blue Devils to remain perfect in ACC play.
"The turning point of the game was the red card," Kerr said. "We had to change the way we played, but they did a great job working hard for each other and we caused some problems for them on some set pieces. There were some good chances for us in the second half."
Maryland held a 17-7 advantage in shots and a 7-3 in corner kicks. In goal, Fitzgerald made a season-high eight saves for the Blue Devils. Maryland’s Will Swain had one save in 90 minutes of action.
The Blue Devils continue their ACC schedule next week, hosting Clemson on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.