DURHAM, N.C.--Ciaran McKenna headed home a Cody Brinkman service with 4:39 left in overtime to lift the Blue Devils to a thrilling 3-2 victory over visiting High Point Monday afternoon. The tally capped a late comeback effort from a 2-1 deficit late in the second half.
Duke improves to 3-0-0, marking the third time under head coach John Kerr the Blue Devils have started the season with three consecutive victories.
“We faced adversity today for the first time,” said Kerr. “We got outplayed in the first 10 minutes of the second half and we had to roll up our sleeves and dig deep to come out on top. It wasn’t easy, but I like the way our attitude has been.”
The Blue Devils had the majority of possession throughout much of the first half, but were unable to capitalize in the early minutes despite winning four corner kicks through the first 20 minutes.
Sophomore Suniel Veerakone drew a free kick 25 yards outside the penalty box to set up a dangerous set piece for the Blue Devils. The second-year midfielder stepped up and swung a curling service to the back post where rookie Matthias Frick headed it across the line for the 1-0 lead with 10:27 left in the opening half.
The tally was the freshman defender’s first career goal and pushed his points total to three for the year. Veerakone has two assists on the year coming off the bench.
Taking a 1-0 lead into halftime for the third time this season, Duke struggled to get into a rhythm in the early portion of the second half. High Point took advantage and created numerous opportunities. The Panthers, after a couple of near misses, tied the game in the 55th minute on a Jonathan Bolanos header from a Ryan Inman corner kick.
The High Point score ended Duke and Will Pulisic’s shutout streak at 233:55.
The Panthers continued to put pressure on the Blue Devils and scored a go-ahead goal just over 10 minutes later when Connor Cesar rifled a shot from 20 yards into the left corner past Pulisic.
Trailing for the first time all season, Duke regained its composure and started attacking with fury. The Blue Devils created chance after chance, but were unable to capitalize. With the minutes ticking away quickly and Duke still trailing, senior captain Markus Fjørtoft scored one of the biggest goals of his life to tie the game with 2:42 remaining.
Sophomore Brandon Williamson, with the ball on his foot on the right flank, sent a perfectly flighted ball into the box to the Norwegian center back. Fjørtoft timed it perfectly and headed it into the left corner to force overtime.
Riding the wave of momentum in overtime, Duke was primed for victory in the extra session. And McKenna capped the exciting finish by heading home a Cody Brinkman cross from the left side with 4:39 remaining. McKenna outjumped the High Point goalie for his second score of the year and Brinkman’s first assist.
Duke continues its five-game homestand to start the season Tuesday with its first midweek contest. The Blue Devils welcome Presbyterian for a 7 p.m., kickoff on ACC Network Extra.