#17 Duke Men's Soccer 2012 Preview

Duke Blue Devils

Overall Rank: #17
Conference Rank: #5 Atlantic Coast Conference
Duke Men's College Soccer 2012 Team Preview
Duke Team Page


Going into just his fifth season as head coach at Duke, John Kerr has already made history, not with wins on the field or a championship title but a simple award. The Herrmann award, the award all collegiate soccer players strive for, men and women. The award is given to the top male and female players in NCAA Division I. Coach Kerr was a recipient in 1986 of the Hermann award when he was at Duke. The Duke alumnus and head coach then became the first coach and award winner to present the trophy to one of his own Blue Devils, Andrew Wenger, for his outstanding performance in the 2011 season. But coach Kerr doesn’t just produce winning players and winning teams like last year when he took Duke to the ACC semifinals and the NCAA Tournament, coach Kerr has proven himself to be a worthy asset to the Blue Devils.  

2011 Record: 11-8-3, 4-3-1
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: John Kerr

Nick Palodichuk, who rode Andrew Wenger’s wake last season, was able to net eight goals and record six assists in the midfield position. Palodichuk, a sophomore, and sophomore forward Matt Slotnick will be looking to lead the Blue Devils offense this season. The two sophomores will be getting help from junior midfielders Rob Dolot and Jonathan Aguirre, both returning players. The offense also added a few freshman recruits to their lineup, giving coach Kerr plenty of options on the front line. Nat Eggleston and Sebastien Ibeagha both are returning to the pitch in the defender slots alongside Michael Assaraf, Chase Keesling, Alex Sauciuc, and Nick Prys. Joining the defense for the 2012 season will be Jack Coleman, who is a transfer from Indiana. Returning keeper James Belshaw has a few recruits to take under his wing as well.

No teams want to rely on one key player to do all the work, unfortunately that’s what Duke did last season and since Andrew Wenger is moved up to the big leagues, Coach Kerr will have to adjust the players and utilize everyone on the team. Coach Kerr will be looking not for an exact player to step up for the offense but he will look to the whole front line and the subs to be able to make plays. The defense will also need some work if they expect to make another ACC and NCAA Tournament appearance this season. The defense allowed 30 goals last season and the keepers tallied 81 saves. The defenders will need to keep the ball away from the net this season and give the keepers a bit of a break. Coach Kerr has some work to do before the season opener against top ranked Notre Dame.

Final Projection:
Duke won’t be able to rely on one player like Slotnik or Palodichuk, nor do they have to. Duke has plenty of talented players on both sides of the ball capable of making plays. The offense took 370 shots last season, 270 of them by the top four players including Palodichuck. If they can continue their attacks then they will certainly be a threat to any defense. The defense was still fairly new to one another last season made up of freshmen and sophomores, but now that they have had a season together, they will be better calibrated going into the 2012 campaign. Duke starts with a pair of exhibition matches before regular season play and conference matches against Maryland, Virginia, Boston College, Wake Forest and NCAA Champs North Carolina.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Tournament

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Nick Palodichuk, Sophomore, M, 8
Assists: Nick Palodichuk, Sophomore, M, 6
Shots: Nick Palodichuk, Sophomore, M, 73
Saves: James Belshaw, Senior, GK, 78

Madness 2013 MLS Draft Rankings:
#28 Nick Palodichuk
#33 Sebastien Ibeagha

Madness 2012 Men’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#14 Luis Rendon
#45 Zachary Mathers