DURHAM, N.C.—Duke’s Max Moser and Kristofer Garðarsson registered their first career goals to lead the sixth-seeded Blue Devils to a 2-1 victory over FIU in the second round of NCAA Men’s Soccer action at Koskinen Stadium Sunday night. The Blue Devils host Fordham in the third round, Saturday, Nov. 25 at 6 p.m.
The win is John Kerr’s 100th as the head coach of the Blue Devils. He is just the second coach in Duke men’s soccer history to reach the century mark in victories. Duke improves to 13-4-2 overall on the year, one win shy of matching the 14 the Blue Devils posted in 2011 – a high-water mark under Kerr.
“We got off to a good start and I was hoping we would get a hold of the ball a little bit better,” said Kerr. “But in these games it’s so competitive and they put a lot of pressure on us. They were chasing the game and we got a little bit sloppy. It was a heckuva goal by Kristofer Gardarsson to show his quality and I was happy to get that two-goal cushion.”
Duke improves to 31-24-1 in NCAA Tournament play overall, the 14th-most of any Division I program. FIU ends its outstanding season with a 12-2-4 overall record.
The Blue Devils got off to a fast start, moving the ball well and controlling much of the possession. Duke freshman Daniel Wright did well to draw a foul on the Panthers about 25 yards from goal, setting up an outstanding opportunity for the left foot of Moser.
The sophomore winger stepped up and whipped a shot over the wall and into the left side netting leaving FIU goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux with no chance and giving Duke the 1-0 lead just 18:02 into the game.
Duke did well to keep FIU’s high-powered offense in check for the remainder of the half and took a 1-0 lead into halftime. Senior striker Brian White did have a goal-saving defensive play in the opening 45 minutes, tackling a player on the doorstep amidst a bit of chaos in the penalty box.
The second half was a tight affair with FIU starting to chase the game as time wore on. Duke absorbed the pressure well, with Carter Manley anchoring the backline as the center back for the missing Markus Fjørtoft.
“Carter is a very talented player on both sides of the ball,” Kerr said. “He’s very quick to play the ball long with his left or right. He can play it short either way and he has good recovery speed and reads the game well. He was the obvious choice [to step in for Markus].”
Gardarsson gave the Blue Devils a nice cushion in the 73rd minute when he took a centering pass from sophomore Suniel Veerakone and hit a wonder strike into the left side netting past Fauroux. The FIU keeper, once again, had no chance at stopping the shot as Gardarsson netted a memorable first goal as a Blue Devil.
FIU, refusing to give up and possessing the nation’s top offense, pulled back within one when a long pass out of by back by Owen Green caught the Duke defense a little flat footed. Paul Marie ran onto the ball and calmly slipped it past Duke goalkeeper Will Pulisic in a one-on-one play.
“To get that second goal was crucial,” Kerr said. “But we did make it exciting the last 10 minutes for the fans.”
That proved to be all the Panthers could get past the Duke defense and Pulisic. The rookie keeper was outstanding once again, making seven saves overall, including a couple of crucial diving stops in the first half.
Duke hosts Fordham, which upset No. 11 seed Virginia 1-0. Kickoff is set for Nov. 25 at 6 p.m., at Koskinen Stadium and will be broadcast on WatchESPN. It will be a rematch as the Blue Devils defeated the Rams 3-0 Aug. 27 in the second game of the John Rennie Nike Invitational.
Tickets are $8 for adults and #3 for students and senior citizens. Fans can purchase them in advance through GoDuke.com.