DURHAM, N.C.—With three days of preseason practices under its belt, the Duke men’s soccer team will get a look at a different opponent Saturday night at Old Dominion. The Blue Devils and Monarchs kick off at 7 p.m., at the ODU Soccer Complex. Admission is free of charge.
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Duke, ranked 30th in the College Soccer News preseason poll, opened practice Aug. 13 with a pair of training sessions before hitting the road for Virginia Beach. While away from Durham, the Blue Devils practice twice per day in preparation for the 2014 campaign. Duke returns 84 percent of its scoring and 16 letterwinners from a year ago.
The Monarchs, picked fourth in Conference USA return seven lettermen from last year’s 11-6-1 squad that finished second in the regular season and advanced to the NCAA second round.
Under the direction of Head Coach Alan Dawson, the Monarchs have advanced to the NCAA tournament four consecutive years and 10 of the last 12. Dawson (322-134-41) enters the season as the nation’s 13th winningest active NCAA coach.
Seniors Sean Davis and Jake Butwin and junior Zach Mathers will captain the squad in 2014. Davis, Duke’s playmaker in the midfield, will lead the offense along with sophomore striker Brody Huitema. The duo combined for 12 goals and seven assists for 31 points a year ago. Senior Nick Palodichuk will also be a key offensive contributor in his final season as a Blue Devil. He has played in 50 games and has 14 goals and 10 assists to his name.
Mathers, Duke’s utility player last season, has started all 36 games in his career and looks to provide a steady force on the Duke backline. Senior Nat Eggleston will provide possession as a holding midfielder as the Blue Devils look to fill the hole left by center back Sebastien Ibeagha.
A quartet of goalkeepers will be vying for the starting role in 2014. Simen Omholt-Jensen and Joe Ohaus come in as rookies, while senior Wilson Fisher and junior Wade Clement look to grab their first starting nods.
The Blue Devils officially open the season Aug. 29 in the John Rennie Nike Invitational. Duke takes on Loyola Marymount in the opener at 7:30 p.m.