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Duke University 2018 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School:  Duke University
Conference:  Atlantic Coast 
Coach:  John Kerr –  Eleventh Season
2017 Record:  13-4-3 – 4-3-1 in conference play 
2017 Final Season Ending Rank:  13 United Soccer Coaches.  15 College Soccer News
Key Personnel Losses from the 2017 Team:  Forward Brian White, midfielders Cameron Moseley and Cody Brinkman, defenders Markus Fjortoft, Carter Manley and Kevon Black. 

Five Year Win Total:

2013:  8

2014:  9

2015:  10

2016:  7

2017:  13

2017 Goals Scored and Goals Allowed:  33 scored – 21 allowed 
2017 Goals Scored and Goals Allowed Per Game:  1.65 scored – 1.05 allowed
2017 Key Statistic: A six game increase in win total compared to 2016 

Background:  Duke has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament a total of twenty-six times including five appearances (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2017) since John Kerr assumed the reigns of the program in 2008.  Kerr replaced veteran head coach John Rennie who retired after twenty-nine seasons at the helm of the program. 

The Blue Devils have advanced to the College Cup (Final Four) five times with the most recent being the 2004 season.  Duke won the national championship in 1986 when Kerr was the Blue Devil captain and was named the National Player of the Year. The Blue Devils won secured the the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title in 1999, 2005, and 2006. 

Duke had a banner season in 2017 during which they claimed thirteen wins, were awarded the number six seed in the NCAA Tournament, and topped FIU 2-1 before their season came to an end in the third round when they were topped by Fordham in a contest that was determined by a penalty kick shootout after the score was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation and overtime.

Forward Brian White was named to the 2017 All-ACC Second Team.  Defenders Markus Fjortoft and Carter Manley and goalkeeper Will Pulsic were All-ACC Third Team selections.  White was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-South Region First-Team while Fjortoft and Manley were named to the All-South Region Second-Team. .

Number Starters Slated to Return in 2018:  Seven


Nii Engmann – Forward – Shoreline, Washington – Played for Crossfire Premier.  Started nine of fourteen contests for Crossfire Premier and scored eleven goals.

Eliot Hamill – Goalkeeper – Scarsdale, New York – Edgemont High School – Played for Golden Touch Soccer.  Four-year team captain and team most valuable player.  Two-time All-State selection at Edgemont HIgh School.

Conor Kelly – Midfielder – Rumson, New Jersey – Played for Cedar Stars Academy Monmouth. Named the number forty-seven recruit in the Class of 2018 by College Soccer News.   

Seth Kuhn – Midfielder – Wyomissing, Pennsylvania – Played for Philadelphia Union Academy – Called into the U015 and U-17 National Team Camps.  Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 118 player in the class of 2018. 

Ian Murphy – Defender – Redlands, California – Played for FC Golden State Academy.  Ranked by College Soccer News as the number twenty-one player in the class of 2018.  Attended one semester of residency with the U.S. U-17 National Team. 

Issa Rayyan – Forward – Grand Blanc, Michigan – Played for Philadelphia Union  Academy.  Ranked by College Soccer News as the number thirty-six player in the Class of 2018. 

Aedan Stanley – Defender – Columbia, Illinois – Played for St. Louis FC Academy.  Ranked by College Soccer News as the number four player in the class of 2018.  Called up to the U.S. U-20 National Team camp.  Member of the U.S. U-18 National Team that competed in the Lisbon INternational Tournament. 

Silvert Daehlie – Forward – Holter, Norway – Senior transfer from Radford where hw was a Big South Conference First Team selection in 2017   Scored twelve goals and contributed seven assists in 2017.  

Kevin Feucht – MIdfielder – Schwetzingen, Germany – Senior transfer from UC Santa Barbara.  Missed the 2017 season due to injury.  Scored eleven goals as a junior in 2016.  Named the 2016 Big West Conference Midfielder of the Year.  2016 and 2016 All-Big West Conference First Team selection.  

Outlook for 2018 Season: 

Duke will enter the 2018 season with a solid necleus of returning players from the 2017 team supplemented by what looks to be among the best recruiting classes from top to bottom in the country. 

The key challenge on the offensive side of the ball will be replacing midfielder Brian White (10g, 3a) who was the go-to guy in the Blue Devil attack last year.  Duke also faces the daunting challenge of filling the void that exists talent and experience wise in the back due to the graduation of center back Markus Fjortoft 3g, 0a), right outside back Carter Manley (0g, 5a) and back Kevon Black (1g, 2a).  

Junior Daniele Proch (5g, 2a) and sophomore Daniel Wright (3g, 2a) who were starters last year are among the returning players the Blue Devils will count on for offensive firepower up-top.  Both have the potential to be impact players.  Sophomore Kristofer Gardarsson (1g, 1a) and juniors Colby Agu and Nicolas Macri are among other returning forwards who will seek to play a greater role in 2018.  Senior Sivert Daehlie who transfers in from Radford is among the newcomers who should add immeidate punch to the offense up-top.

The departure of White and center midfielder Cody Brinkman means that some reloading will be required in the midfield heading into the 2018 campaign. The good news is that a solid contingent of midfielders return led by junior center midfielder Brandon Williamson (0g, 2a) who looks to be the guy who will set the pace.  Juniors Max Moser (1g, 5a) and Jack Doran (1g. 2a) who were starters last year should also play key roles once again in 2018.  Junior Suniel Veerakone (1g, 3a) who saw action in twenty contests last year, senior Torbjorn Alseth (1g, 2a) and junior Miguel Yzaga are among other returning linkmen who will be in the mix.  Senior midfielder Kevin Feucht who transfers in from UC Santa Barabara is a proven goal scorer who should hit the ground running.  

Rebuilidng the backline may prove to be a tougher task than filling the void that exists on the offensive side of the ball. Sophomore Matthias Frick (2g, 1a) and senior Ciaran McKenna (2g, 0a) look to be among key returning backs.  Senior Oliver Spring, junior Max Feldman, and sophomores Wilhem Jacques and Stephen O'Connell are among other returning defenders.  Newcomer Aedan Stanley whose resume includes U.S. Youth National Team experience is among the newcomers who should challenge for playing time in the back. 

Sophomore Will Pulisic who had an outstanding freshman season between the pipes returns to anchor the Blue Devil defense. Pulisic is a prime timer but he and the Duke defense could face some rocky moments due to the inexperience of the back line in the early going.  Backs with the experience of Fjortoft and Manley are not easy to replace. 

While the losses due to graudation are significant, the Blue Devils should once again be formidable in 2018.  Kerr and his staff will have a talented contingent of retuning talent to work with along with the infusion of what looks to be among the top recruiting classes in the country.  Blending in the newcomers with returning players looks looks to be high among Duke's to-do list.      

The productivity of the attack in 2018 will begin up-top with Proch and Wright.  Both have the potential to be impact players.  The addition of forward Sivert Daehlie and Kevin Feucht in the midfield should give a boost to the offense. Both have the potential to be huge difference makers.  

The departure of White and Brinkman will likely increase the impact that the play of center midfielder Brandon Williamson will have upon Duke's success in 2018. The strength of the defense will begin with Will Pulisic in goal but will ultimately hinge on the ability of some new faces to anchor the backline.  The biggest challenge facing Duke may be grooming a new backline. 

It is doubtful that anyone feels the pulse of the Blue Devil soccer program more than John Kerr who was the captain of the 1986 team that captured Duke's first ever NCAA National Championship.  Kerr, his coaching staff, and his current Blue Devil players are likely feeling upbeat about their chances of building on the success that they had last year.  The bottom line is that all things considered there looks to be enough talent of board in 2018 to make that happen.  


Posted in 2018 Team Reviews

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