Duke victory marred by taunting

by J.R. Eskilson
November 23, 2021
Duke-UCLA incident

Usually when the college soccer tournament comes around, the teams gain popularity for spectacular goals or thrilling finishes. That’s not the case this season for the Duke men’s soccer program. 

During the 2-1 come-from-behind victory over UCLA on Sunday, Duke sophomore striker Thorleifur Ulfarsson gained notoriety on social media after taunting Bruins goalkeeper Nate Crockford following Peter Stroud’s game-winning goal in the 88th minute. Ulfarsson celebrated the goal by mimicking diving in front of Crockford alluding to the UCLA goalie, who made 10 saves in the game, should have done better on the shot. UCLA freshman defender Pietro Grassi did not take kindly to the insulting taunts and shoved Ulfarsson in the face. 

Grassi was shown a red card for his violent act. Meanwhile, Ulfarsson, who was the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, was not booked for his display after the goal. 

The clip quickly made the rounds on social media - the inital clip has over 1 million views as of Tuesday morning -  with plenty of noteworthy accounts weighing in on the behavioral seen following the goal. 

“It's part of the sport, and people are competitive,” Duke head coach John Kerr told Sasha Richie of The Chronicle after the win about the incident. “That's why you play, because if you're just straightforward and you don't have any emotion, you're not going to get very far.”

Richie also noted in her game report that the Duke fans “applauded Ulfarsson as he walked off the field.”

Duke advanced to the Third Round to face Saint Louis on Saturday at 7 p.m.

video via ESPN+/ACC Network

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