The Battle of the Blues is one of the most anticipated matchups in any sport, and Friday’s matchup didn’t disappoint.
The match between North Carolina men’s soccer and Duke was a chippy game riddled with fouls, shoves and yellow cards, but only one shade of blue could come out on top.
No. 14 UNC fell 3-2 to the Blue Devils despite dominating the first half and grabbing a 2-0 lead. Duke hadn't won at UNC since 1999, and this is the first time the Tar Heels have lost to the Blue Devils since 2014. It's also the first instance since that year that they have given up more than two goals in a game.
After the loss, head coach Carlos Somoano declined to make players available. Two days later, first-year defender Blake Malone spoke to The Daily Tar Heel about the loss.
“We don't like to lose in general, but of course losing to our longtime rival, Duke, is kind of really gut wrenching,” Malone said. “But, even though we lost, we're focused on what's next and we're excited for what's to come.”
Despite hailing from Las Vegas, Malone is no stranger to the Tobacco Road rivalry. He grew up knowing about the rivalry through UNC basketball, and while he didn’t have a strong allegiance to any team at the time, Malone said now that he’s part of the rivalry, he hates losing to Duke that much more.
“It feels like it's one of the worst feelings,” Malone said. “Now that I'm actually part of Carolina, and I am a Tar Heel, it just means that much more to me that we do win.”
With 2,244 fans in attendance, the energy in the UNC Soccer and Lacrosse Stadium was palpable.
“One of our players would beat a Duke player on the dribble, and all of a sudden, you hear the crowd go loud,” Malone said. “It was really great to have that support and know that they were there behind us the entire time. Even when times got tough, they were still there.”