DURHAM, N.C.—Despite the heartbreaking end, the Duke men’s soccer team had a memorable 2017 season that was capped by a No. 13 national ranking in the final United Soccer Coaches poll released Tuesday. NCAA Champion Stanford finished atop the poll, while Indiana and Akron rounded out the top three.
Duke’s No. 13 ranking is the second highest for the Blue Devils in head coach John Kerr’s tenure and the best since 2009 when the Blue Devils finished the campaign 12th. Duke, ranked for eight straight weeks to end the regular season, was among the top 25 for multiple consecutive weeks for the first time since it was in the top 25 for seven straight weeks during the 2010 season. The No. 11 ranking at the end of October was the highest for a Blue Devil team since November of 2009.
The Blue Devils, after missing the NCAA Tournament for the past five seasons, returned to the field of 48 in 2017 as the No. 6 seed. It was the first time Duke had been seeded since 2006. Duke finished the year with a 13-4-3 overall record, making a six-win improvement from the previous season. The six-game improvement from a year ago matched the best one-year turnaround in Duke history, while the 13 wins are the second-most under Kerr. Duke advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 before falling in heartbreaking fashion in penalty kicks to Fordham.
Brian White paced the Blue Devils on offense with 10 goals and three assists for 23 points. He was recognized for his efforts on the field, earning All-ACC second team recognition, All-South Region first team accolades and ultimately a spot on the All-America third team. He is the first Blue Devil All-American since Sebastien Ibeagha in 2013 and only the 33rd different Duke player to garner the award.
Defensively, Duke was anchored by the senior duo of Markus Fjørtoft and Carter Manley. Both were All-ACC choices as well as All-South Region second team honorees after helping the Blue Devils post seven shutouts. In goal, rookie Will Pulisic played every minute for the Blue Devils, finishing his first campaign with a 1.01 goals against average and a .761 save percentage. He led the ACC in save percentage and was second in shutouts.