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Duke Drops Hard-Fought Battle to No. 1 Maryland, 2-1
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 10/12/2012
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DURHAM, N.C.-University of Maryland freshman Cristiano Francois tallied a goal in the 42nd minute and the top-ranked Terrapins held off Duke 2-1 in ACC men's soccer action this evening at Koskinen Stadium. The Blue Devils' goal came from sophomore Nat Eggleston.

Maryland (11-0-1, 5-0-0 ACC) and Duke (4-6-1, 2-3-1 ACC) combined for three goals in the first half, just one fewer than had been scored overall in the first halves of the Blue Devils' previous 10 contests this season.

The Terrapins held possession in the early going and struck quickly in the 13th minute for a 1-0 lead. Mikey Ambrose got open on the left side of the field and swung a cross into the penalty area where Maryland's John Stertzer headed it home for his fifth tally of the year.

"I think we were a little tentative at the beginning of the game," head coach John Kerr said. "We weren't comfortable on the ball and gave possession away in our own half and allowed them to get confidence. They're a good team, easily the best team we've played all season and a cut above the rest of the teams that we've seen on tape."

Duke, showing its resilience, answered 15 minutes later with a fabulous finish from Eggleston off of a corner kick from freshman midfielder Ryan Thompson. Attacking down the flanks successfully, the Blue Devils earned second corner kick of the evening in the 25th minute. Thompson's first service got put back across the end line, but on the second opportunity the Cary, N.C. native drove a great ball to the center of the penalty box. Eggleston skied above the Maryland defenders and headed the service right back into the right corner of the net for the equalizer.

The Blue Devils continued to push forward and kept Maryland's high-powered offense in check. Sophomore Jack Coleman had a good look late in the half, but it was smothered by Terrapin goalie Keith Cardona to keep the score even 1-1.

Much like Maryland has done all season, the Terrapins struck quickly after a restart with a terrific finish from Francois. Jordan Cyrus provided the assist from the right wing as Francois was able to sneak a deft touch past Duke goalkeeper James Belshaw for what proved to be the game winner.

"We were disappointed to give that goal up late in the first half after we equalized," Kerr said. "I thought if we could hold it until halftime we could reorganize ourselves and get a little confidence from coming back from Maryland because Maryland is such a good team that they usually go on and get two or three goals after they get the first one."

Trailing for the first time all season at the half, Duke came out looking to come back and tie the game for the second time. The Terrapins, however, continued to press forward for more goals and generated seven shots in first 20 minutes of the second half. Despite being under heavy pressure at times, the Blue Devils' stalwart backline rarely allowed the Terrapins open looks at the goal, giving up just one shot on frame in those seven.

"They're a really feisty team, and they're tough and disciplined," Kerr said. "They break pressure well and they get at you and hit you on the counter attack and it's a tough thing to deal with. I thought our back four handled it pretty well considering all of their opportunities."

The Blue Devils, able to hold off the nation's top scoring offense, battled to the end and had a few opportunities late in the game but were unable to capitalize in a final push for the tying goal.

Overall, Maryland outshot Duke 19-8, including 11-3 in the second half. The Blue Devils won the corner kick battle 7-2. In goal, Belshaw finished with two saves, while Cardona had one.

The Blue Devils resume their midweek schedule Tuesday, Oct. 16 against Presbyterian at 7 p.m., at Koskinen Stadium.