WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – In a very tough road ACC match Thursday, the ninth-ranked Duke women’s soccer team came away with a 1-0 victory over Wake Forest at Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The Blue Devils remained in a tie for first in the ACC standings with a 4-0-1 record, while moving to 9-2-2 overall on the season. Wake Forest dropped to 8-5-0, 0-5-0.
“It was absolutely a great, great win for us,” said Duke head coach Robbie Church. “Wake Forest played very, very well. We knew they were going to play well and throw everything at us. And they did, they were a desperate team. Watching them on tape, I thought that was one of their better games all year.” Duke featured the first shot of the match by freshman Ella Stevens, but Wake Forest’s Lindsay Preston was able to easily grab the attempt at the 2:05 mark.
Wake Forest featured the best early chance as the Demon Deacons had a some great passing that left Claudia Day at the 12-yard mark wide open. Day’s attempt hit off the right post and the Blue Devils survived to keep the score, 0-0.
The Blue Devils came right back and got on the board as junior Morgan Reid lofted a ball to the far side of the box to junior Christina Gibbons. Gibbons, who hails from Raleigh, N.C., sent a perfect cross in front of the goal where junior Imani Dorsey was charging. A native of Elkridge, Md., Dorsey finished off her sixth goal of the year at the 18:03 mark, off assists from Gibbons and Reid.
“Morgan had a good ball in, one that had their defenders faced towards their own goal,” commented Gibbons. “I was kind of on the backside of the defender. She didn’t have the best touch and I kind of got back around her. I think there was a little miss-communication between her and their goalkeeper. I slotted one across and Imani was there. She had a great finish.” The goal by Dorsey gives her at least one point in five out of the last six matches, while her six goals is now tied for first on the Duke squad along with Stevens.
“We battled and we found the goal,” said Church. “We were a little lucky they knocked one off the post and five minutes later we come back [and score]. Great goal though – great build up, great pass and Imani finished it there.” Wake Forest kept pressing on the Duke defense and attempted five first half shots, while the Blue Devils had six attempts. Blue Devil goalkeeper EJ Proctor registered two first half saves between the pipes.
When scoring first, the Blue Devils entered the match with an 8-0 record.
In the 54th minute, Stevens played a phenomenal ball to a charging senior Toni Payne. A product of Birmingham, Ala., Payne took a little too long of a touch and Preston came out and made the stop on the shot.
Wake Forest featured three shots over the final 12 minutes and the Duke defense held strong to collect its fourth straight shutout. The Blue Devils extended their shutout streak to 422.95, which is a season best.
Duke was outshot in the match 10-9. The nine shots for the Blue Devils were the tied for second lowest of the year and fewest in ACC action this season.
Since moving to starting in the midfield, Gibbons has collected three assists over the last two matches. She now owns a team-best six dishes on the year.
“They were in a situation where they haven’t won a game in the ACC yet,” said Gibbons. “So we knew that their backs were in a corner and really had to focus and try to come out and be desperate about it to get a win. They were throwing a lot of numbers and long balls at us but we held strong in the back. I am really proud about the win.” Proctor, who hails from Wilson, N.C., finished the evening with four saves over 90 minutes.
“During the course of a season, you have to have these types of games if you are going to have a great year,” commented Church. “I am really, really, really proud of this team for all their work.”
Duke will continue its road swing by heading down Tobacco Road to face NC State Sunday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m., in Raleigh, N.C.