DURHAM, N.C.—For the 27th time in program history Duke is headed to the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship. The Blue Devils earned the No. 6 overall seed and will host the winner between Pacific and UC Riverside, Sunday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m.
Duke, seeded sixth for the second consecutive season, is a top 16 seed for the sixth time since the NCAA started seeding teams and for the second time since it was the top seed in 2006. Sporting a 10-6-2 record and finishing behind top-seeded Wake Forest and No. 4 seed North Carolina in the ACC, the Blue Devils were 11th in the final RPI. Duke also held wins over No. 7 seeded Notre Dame, 10-seed Virginia and No. 12 Virginia Tech. Tickets are available for purchase immediately. Adults are $8 and students/senior are $3 and can be bought online at http://www.goduke.com/tickets.
“We’re delighted to be the six seed again,” said head coach John Kerr. “To achieve that two years in a row is a great accomplishment and I feel we deserved it in coming in third in the ACC and advancing to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.”
The Blue Devils are 31-24-2 overall in NCAA action. Under Kerr, Duke is 5-4-1 in postseason play with two of the losses coming in overtime. Last season, the Blue Devils beat FIU in the second round before dropping the third-round game in a heartbreaking penalty kick shootout against Fordham. The Blue Devils captured the 1986 title and have advanced to three championship games and five NCAA semifinals – the last being 2004.
Duke enters NCAA postseason play with a 10-6-2 overall record and advanced to the ACC Championship semifinal. Junior Daniele Proch headlines the offense with 11 goals and 26 points overall, while ACC Rookie of the Year Issa Rayyan has five goals and three assists for 13 points. Four of Rayyan’s five goals have come in the past five games. Classmate Ian Murphy has three goals and three assists.
Defensively, the Blue Devils are anchored by All-ACC second team goalkeeper Will Pulisic. The sophomore goalie has played all but 10 minutes this season and sports a 1.20 goals against average, a .690 save percentage and has five shutouts. Playing directly in front of Pulisic is the trio of rookie center back Aedan Stanley, sophomore Matthias Frick and senior captain Ciaran McKenna.
“We’re going to try to find out a little bit more about our opponents and see what happens there,” Kerr said. “We’ll be ready when it happens Sunday and hopefully there will be a big crowd.”
University of the Pacific earned an at-large berth into the tournament after posting an 11-4-2 overall record and 5-2-0 mark in West Coast Conference play. The Tigers will host UC Riverside Thursday, Nov. 15. They defeated the Highlanders 3-1 in the regular season. Pacific is averaging 1.78 goals per game with Camden Riley pacing the offense with nine goals and 23 points overall. Jonathan Jimenez has eight goals and 21 points. The Tigers are allowing 1.12 goals per game and have six shutouts.
UC Riverside captured the automatic bid out of the Big West Conference, besting UC Davis in penalty kicks after a scoreless 110 minutes. The Highlanders are 7-9-3 overall on the year, but riding a five-game unbeaten streak. Daniel Aguirre is the top scorer with 14 points (6g, 2a). UC Riverside is only scoring 1.21 goals per game and giving up 1.74 per outing.
The winner of the second round game in Durham will play the winner between No. 11 seed Maryland and NC State or Campbell. The game will be played at the highest remaining seed.