SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Duke senior defender Markus Fjørtoft scored seven minutes into the second half for what proved to be the game-winner as the Blue Devils upset No. 11 Syracuse on the road Friday night in ACC men’s soccer action. The victory gives Duke six points in league play and puts it in a tie for second place in the Coastal Division.
The Blue Devils improve to 6-1-1 overall and 2-1-0 in conference action, while Syracuse falls to 4-3-2 and 0-2-1 in league play.
Duke wasn’t able to generate many quality scoring chances in the first half, but Blue Devil senior Brian White took advantage of the one opportunity he got in front of the net.
With the Blue Devils controlling more of possession in the latter part of the opening 45 minutes, rookie Daniel Wright served the ball into the penalty box. The service sailed to the back post where a poor clearance from a Syracuse defender put the ball right back on the foot of White in the center of the penalty box. White calmly took a touch and slipped it past Orange goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert for the 1-0 lead.
The Orange put a lot of pressure on in the waning minutes of the half, but Duke remained strong and steady to take the 1-0 lead into the break. Will Pulisic was solid in goal in the first period, making two saves, including a one-on-one chance in the early portion of the game.
After Duke did well to defend a host of set pieces for the Orange in the opening minutes of the second half, the Blue Devils capitalized on a corner kick. Max Moser curled a ball right into the six-yard box and Fjørtoft got just enough of a touch on it to direct it into the goal.
Just over 10 minutes later Pulisic came up with a big save on a corner kick. The rookie goalkeeper was able to get his glove on the header as it came in from eight yards, keeping Duke’s lead solid at two.
Syracuse, however refused to give in and continued to press on in search of that elusive first goal. Duke’s defense remained strong and steady, but the Orange snuck one in in the 78th minute when Jonathan Hagman finished a ball that was played in behind the Duke defense.
The Orange continued to pressure the Blue Devils’ defense, but they refused to break en route to the 2-1 victory. Pulisic finished with four saves, his second straight game with four. Hilpert finished with zero saves as Syracuse outshot Duke 13-4 for the game. The Blue Devils’ two shots on goal both found the back of the net.
Duke returns home for its next two games. The Blue Devils host Appalachian State Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. and resume ACC play Sept. 30 against No. 10 Louisville at 7 p.m. Both games will be aired on ACC Network Extra.