Fordham players celebrate after vanquishing Duke via penalty kicks. (Photo by Keith Lucas)
DURHAM, N.C. — The Fordham University men’s magical and historical run through the NCAA Division I tournament continued Saturday night in dramatic fashion.
Twice the Rams overcame one-goal deficits to topple Duke University in penalty kicks, 8-7, in a Round of 16 at Koskinen Stadium.
Jordan Black, who hasn’t played a second for Fordham this season, converted the winning PK as goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu made his third save of the shootout on Max Moser to seal the upset.
The teams battled to a 2-2 deadlock through regulation and two extratimes.
Fordham (14-5-3), which reached the Elite Eight for the first time in its history, will meet third-seeded University of North Carolina Saturday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. The Tar Heels blanked SMU Saturday, 2-0.
It marked the first time a Fordham Division I men’s program has reached the final eight of the national championship tournament. The 1978-79 women’s basketball team had reached the last eight of the then-AIAW National Championship.
“I am so proud of this Fordham team,” Fordham head coach Jim McElderry said. “We did not play well in The first half but came out in the second half and played the way we know we can.”
McElderry added that the Rams “defended well and played with confidence going forward. I really thought we pushed the game in the overtimes and almost scored the winner.
“In penalties we know Shido will save a few. And he came up big again. And we then had multiple players step up and score massive penalties. Could not be happier for the players and I am lucky to be able to coach this group for at least one more week.“
Over the past 10 days, the Rams showed how tough they were. They overcame deficits against St. Francis Brooklyn twice to win in the opening round, 3-2, Nov. 16. Joergen Oland scored the winner six minutes into extratime.
They then stunned 11th-seeded University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. as Midfielder Eric Ohlendorf scored the game-winner in the 83rd minute Nov. 19.
And now this.
The shootout did not start well for the Rams as Duke keeper Will Pulisic, the cousin of U.S. international Christian Pulisic, stopped Janos Loebe on the very first shot.
After Joergen Oland and Matthew Lewis converted their penalty kicks for Fordham, Nuhu denied Kristofer Gardarsson with a kick save to even the score at 2-2 through three shooters. Nuhu converted on his own penalty attempt, while Duke answered, making it 3-3 to the fifth shooter.
Jannik Loebe hit the crossbar to give Duke a chance to win, but Nuhu stopped Carter Manley with a punch save to the left side to push the shootout into extra shooters. Matt Miller, Dziedzic, Vincenzo Zuccala, Connor DeFilippis converted the next four kicks, as did Duke, putting the 10th shooter on the spot.
Black calmly converted into the left side of the goal to put Fordham ahead, 8-7. Moser had to score for Duke to continue the shootout, but Nuhu made the stop to the right post, putting the Rams into the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time.
The Blue Devils (13-4-3) drew first blood in the eighth minute as Brian White connected on a header off a Moser cross, his 10th goal of the season.
The Rams, however, equalized in the 53rd minute as Jannik Loebe converted a left-wing feed from atop of the penalty area off a Bart Dziedzic feed for a 1-1 deadlock. It was Loebe’s second goal of the postseason and career-high eighth overall.
The Blue Devils then regained the lead in the 63rd minute. White flicked a Moser corner kick to Matthias Frick on a scramble in front, and just got the ball over the line as Nuhu attempted to grab it. After video review, the goal was confirmed.
Then it was Fordham’s turn to score as Dziedzic knotted the match at 2-2, his third goal of the season, with 3:22 left in regulation. Dziedzic ran down a long ball on the left flank and ran into the box as two defenders and Pulisic converged on the ball, but could not grab it. Dziedzic tapped the loose ball into the open goal.
The Rams have scored 32 goals this year, 24 in the second half.