Duke soccer: Men hold off stubborn Elon for hard-fought win

Duke basketball (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports) /

Hard fought from the beginning

The men of Duke soccer looked to rebound from a disappointing draw with rival North Carolina by taking to the road against a stubborn and feisty Elon Phoenix team and coming away with a hard fought 1-0 win.

The Phoenix, who were riding a three-game win streak, were not intimidated in the least about facing the nation’s seventh-ranked team. They took it to the Blue Devils early and forced keeper Eliot Hamill to make a diving save very early in the game. Neither team managed much offense in the first half as they combined for just seven shots. “They came out fighting from the beginning and made it very difficult for us and we had to play with a lot of their pressure. I thought we handled it somewhat well at times and not so well at times in the first half,” Duke head coach John Kerr said afterwards.

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Raising their game

After having his best scoring chance of the first half snuffed out by Elon keeper Ryan Bilichuk, Shakur Mohammed finally put the Blue Devils on the board on a free kick in the fifty-seventh minute. It was the sophomore’s fourth goal of the season and the team’s first on a free kick. It was also the first goal scored on the Phoenix in four games.

Hamill had to make another outstanding save in the sixty-seventh minute as Elon began to put more pressure on the Duke defense. The Blue Devils withstood a furious push in the final minutes by the Phoenix to hang on for the win. Kerr was very pleased with the second-half play of his defense, “They were up for the task for the whole game, it just got a little bit harder earlier, and we weren’t ready for the onslaught. We re-adjusted ourselves and re-organized at halftime and I thought we were a very strong team in the second half.”

The Blue Devils are back at it Saturday night at Koskinen Stadium as they return to ACC play against Boston College. First touch is 7 p.m. You can watch the game on ACC Network Extra.