• No. 22 High Point University men’s soccer recorded one of its biggest wins in program history on Tuesday, defeating No. 5 Duke 1-0 on the road
• Ilias Kosmidis earned the game-winner on a PK in the 26th minute, gathering his 10th goal of 2018
• The Panthers win over the Blue Devils is their highest ranked win since joining Division I in 1999
DURHAM, N.C. – No. 22 High Point University men’s soccer records the highest ranked win of its program history this Tuesday night, defeating hosts No. 5 Duke by a final score of 1-0. Ilias Kosmidis earned the game-winner in the 26th minute for his conference-leading 10th goal of the season, putting away his fourth penalty of the 2018 campaign.
“It was wide open from the start, and I thought we did quite well,” said Head Coach EJ O’Keeffe at the end of the match. “I thought we found a deserving goal in that first half. Credit to the guys to see it out and get a great win away from home against a top-ten team in the country.”
Despite the large stage pressure, the Panthers controlled the pace of play in the opening minutes of the midweek affair, dominating play in the middle of the field. The Blue Devils would manage eight attempts at net in the opening 45 minutes, but the HPU defense proved impenetrable in the opening half, blocking six of the home team’s shots before the break.
The Panthers’ prolonged possession, and ability to turn away the Duke pressure eventually paid off midway through the first half, as High Point took a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute. Starting winger Bana Ganidekam received a ball from the backline, putting him one-on-one with his mark just inside the 18, before cutting across the face of the Duke defender. The junior was cut down on his way to goal, giving his side its fourth PK attempt of 2018.
As he’s done in every proceeding situation this year, Kosmidis stepped up to take his side’s penalty, tucking away his 10th of the season inside the left post. “Its a big moment when you step up for that penalty, especially against the fifth team in the country,” said Kosmidis. “They’re a good team, but we’re a good team as well, and we showed it.”
Up by a goal at the end of the break, the Panthers were able to play behind the ball in the second half, forcing the Duke offense to try and create from the wings. Starting keeper Keegan Meyer, and the rest of the HPU defense, were having none of it however, holding the Blue Devils to just two shots on goal in the latter 45. The Panthers collected another three blocks before the final whistle, as their hosts sent another four attempts wide of the goal mouth.
Duke continued to provide pressure till the 90th minute, but the Panthers refused to yield, on the way to their fifth shutout victory of the season. Meyer would finish the night with a pair of saves to secure the 18th clean sheet of his career, and give his team some momentum before restarting conference play against Campbell next week.
“We’ll use this, we’ll enjoy it tonight,” said O’Keeffe. “But we’re straight back to work, and as crazy as it seems, our next opponent is a league match and its very important, more important, and we harp to the guys all the time ‘we’ve got to find three points.'”
>> Tuesday’s final score is the fourth time this season Duke has been shutout and ends the program’s three-match win streak
>> The Panthers have never beaten a team ranked as high as the No. 5 Blue Devils, since joining D1 back in 1999. They are now 2-2-1 against top-25 teams over the past four years
>> Kosmidis has scored 13 of his 22 points in non-conference affairs this season, and has recorded five of his team’s last seven game-winners
COMING UP NEXT
• The Panthers will have the weekend off before returning to conference play next week, playing their final three Big South matchups in the span of eight days
• HPU begins the final regular season stretch with a 7 p.m. road matchup at Campbell next Wednesday, looking to improve its 7-11-3 record against the Camels all-time