As 2021 draws to a close, The Chronicle’s sports department take a glance looking back on the biggest stories of the year in Duke athletics. Each day we’ll go over a major game, event, or storyline that helped shape the course of the year for the Blue Devils.
Arrived at No.10: Men’s football Duke bounces back from a below-par 2020 season to make it to the ACC Championship game and the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Duke has had a sub-optimal 2020 season despite the arrival of one of the best recruiting classes. But, head coach John Kerr and the Blue Devils turned the story around in the 2021 season.
Kerr’s side went 4-10-3 in 2020, a record expected by anyone. This could be due to a number of reasons, including the pandemic preventing a smooth transition from high school to college for its freshmen. But one thing we’re sure is that Duke hasn’t harnessed his potential. This type of performance is not characteristic of Kerr’s schedule, sparking the desire for a successful 2021 season.
The Blue Devils have achieved that goal this year, finishing with a 14-5-1 record. It is evident that Duke has been more aggressive this season as he more than doubled his number of goals scored and amassed 134 more shots compared to last season. Second-year forward Thorleifur Ulfarsson and second-year midfielder Peter Stroud have been the top scorers this season with 15 and four goals respectively.
Besides the significantly improved stats, the Blue Devils were able to do a lot more. Duke finished tied with Pittsburgh for the top spot in the CCA Coastal Region with 16 points, which is particularly impressive considering that this region is home to the Panthers and Notre Dame, two stellar programs for the 2021 season. , Duke was able to make it to the ACC tournament championship game where he fell in Notre Dame by two goals. The Blue Devils had to face two other tough ACC opponents to get there: Wake Forest and Clemson. Finally, Kerr and the Blue Devils reached the third round of the NCAA tournament as a No. 7 seed where they lost to a tough St. Louis program 4-3.
It is clear that Duke has had a successful season because he has achieved some rather impressive feats. But at the top of the list is how quickly Kerr and society were able to make a difference for the Blue Devils, a testament to the program’s resilience and determination. After a season like this, it will be exciting to see what this team achieves next season.
LEARN MORE about Duke’s men’s football season:
Get Overtime, All Duke Athletics
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter organized by an editorial. Cancel anytime.