With his bachelor's degree wrapped up, Robert Moewes looked for a place to finish his final year of soccer eligibility and work on his graduate degree. Duke was the perfect match.
When the German native first considered leaving home to come to the states, it was his hope to work toward an education while still advancing his ultimate goal of playing professional soccer. Such an objective inspired the keeper to accept an offer to play at Binghamton University.
Moewes began playing club soccer in his homeland at nine years of age and progressed through the ranks quickly.
"Everybody plays soccer in Germany. At one point, I joined my hometown team and played with Borussia Dortmund Academy," Moewes said, adding that he would go on to compete on a U-19 team. "It was a great experience, playing on a great, competitive level."
In Germany, there aren't as many opportunities for athletes to work toward their degree and play soccer at the same time. It's kind of one or the other. Moewes entered a soccer showcase and came in contact with Binghamton coach Paul Marco. A year later, he was on in Central New York playing for the Bearcats.
"We've had some terrific goalkeepers play for us," Marco told the Press & Sun Bulletin at the time. "I thought that Robert had the potential to come in and be one of our best goalkeepers ever, and that means something."
Moewes (1) shouts instructions to his teammates after a save. (Photo Courtesy: Reagan Lunn)
In his first year on the pitch in the U.S., Moewes made his mark, playing in 17 games — starting 10 — and recording a 1.12 goals-against percentage with two shutouts and 77 saves. He was named the America East Goalkeeper of the Year, was selected for the All-Conference First Team and the America East All Tournament Team.
During his second season, he started all 18 games, recorded five shutouts, snagged 77 saves and allowed a 1.23 goals-against average. Again Moewes was selected as Keeper of the Year for the conference and picked up first-team honors.
"It was great to win those awards, but I would have loved to win a championship," Moewes said of his time at Binghamton and the recognition he received. "It was a great school. The people were awesome and the campus was very nice."
The Bearcats made it to the America East championship game last season after knocking off top-seeded Albany in the semis, a game in which Moewes recorded a shutout and grabbed seven saves. In the title game, Binghamton fell to Vermont, 1-0.
The decision to head to Duke was a relatively easy one.
"The campus here is beautiful," Moewes said. "Duke is one of the top D1 level schools and the ACC is the best place to play. Duke was a great fit."
Moewes has gotten off to a fast start with the Blue Devils, recording a shutout versus Georgetown in the team's opening exhibition.
“Robert’s one of those guys that is enabling us to be a little more confident because he’s able to make that big save,” head coach John Kerr told the Duke Chronicle. “That’s something that’s huge — if you can have a team that’s confident and have a goalkeeper that’s very vocal and solid back there, it’s comforting."
Duke is now 1-0-1 on the season and Moewes has started both games between the pipes. He has a 0.97 goals against average and has picked up seven saves while facing 15 shots in 186 minutes of play.
"I want to get better and better every game," he said. "The competition is very high here, it forces you to go to your best."
While Moewes' ultimate goal is to play soccer professionally, he is focused on the task at hand and hopes to lead Duke back to the NCAA Tournament for the time since 2011. His stiffest test to date will come Friday night when the Blue Devils travel to California to play UCLA, a team that contains fellow Germans that Moewes knows closely.
"The number of players coming from Germany has increased a lot in the past few years," Moewes said. "There are a couple players at Boston College and Syracuse and other schools. It was definitely the best choice of my life to come to America to play and get a great education."