DURHAM, N.C. – Air Force goalkeeper Paxton Boyer registered 14 saves and midfielder Nick Hruby scored four goals to lead the visiting 19th-ranked Falcons to an 11-10 win over No. 7 Duke on Sunday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium.
Trailing 8-6 midway through the third period, Air Force scored five consecutive goals to claim an 11-8 advantage on Andrew Tien’s marker with 8:52 remaining in the contest. Less than two minutes later, Duke’s Justin Guterding scored twice in a 41-second span to pull the Blue Devils within one goal, but the Falcon defense stymied the home team over the final seven minutes to win the season opener for both squads.
“Playing on Feb. 5 is a blessing and a curse,” said head coach John Danowski. “The blessing is the kids want to play and want to get out there. The curse is we may not quite be ready for some things. But nevertheless we have to tip our cap to Air Force. They played great.”
Duke used a four-goal run to close the second quarter and take a 6-5 lead into intermission. After Tien knotted the game at 6-6 just over two minutes into the third period, senior Jack Bruckner and Guterding posted back-to-back goals to give the Blue Devils a two-goal cushion prior to Air Force’s five-goal spurt.
In addition to Hruby’s four tallies, Air Force received two-goal outings from Tien, Chris Walsch and Grant Gould. The Falcons earned the victory despite picking up just 12 ground balls compared to Duke’s 28.
Duke was led by Guterding with three goals while Jack Bruckner and Joey Manown added two markers apiece. At the faceoff X, Kyle Rowe secured 16-of-21 draws and logged 11 ground balls while goalkeeper Danny Fowler posted nine saves.
“There were some good things and some bad things [on offense],” Danowski said. “Kevin Quigley scored his first college goal and Sean Cerrone his first Duke goal, but there were some really uneven spots and there is no senior or junior out there to show them the way. It’s going to make for an interesting year.”
Air Force converted two-of-four extra man opportunities while Duke was one-for-three. Both teams committed eight turnovers.
Duke returns to action on Friday, Feb. 10, hosting High Point at 7:30 p.m.