PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The fourth-ranked Duke women’s soccer team closed a challenging two-match road trip Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Pittsburgh at the Ambrose Urbanic Field at Petersen Sports Complex in Pittsburgh, Pa.
With Sunday’s win, the Blue Devils improve to 12-3-2 overall and 7-1-1 in ACC action. With a win Thursday in the regular season finale against 15th-ranked Clemson, the Blue Devils will claim the third ACC Regular Season title in school history (1994, 2011). The match versus the Tigers will kick at 7 p.m., and will be aired live on the ACC Network Extra.
“It was nice to get a couple of goals really quick,” said Duke head coach Robbie Church. “We are thrilled to get the win and now we will play for the ACC regular season championship Thursday night against Clemson. It is going to be fun to play for a championship here.”
The Blue Devils wasted no time getting on the board early as senior Christina Gibbons found an open senior Toni Payne, who finished into the corner for her sixth goal of the season, to put the Blue Devils ahead, 1-0. The goal 3:44 into the match was the second-quickest goal of the year for Duke.
Gibbons, who hails from Raleigh, N.C., collected a point for the sixth time out of the last seven matches. She leads Duke with a career-high eight assists.
With the goal and assist, Payne now owns 20 career goals and 19 assists over her four years at Duke. A product of Birmingham, Ala., Payne has attempted 193 shots to rank ninth on Duke’s all-time charts.
Less than three minutes later, sophomore Chelsea Burns sent a pass back from near the line to in front of the goal where freshman Ella Stevens finished her team-best eighth tally of the season. The goal gave Duke a 2-0 advantage only 6:33 into the match.
With her eight goals on the season, Stevens now ranks tied eighth on Duke’s single-season freshman charts. A native of Grayson, Ga., Stevens also ranks tied 11th on the Blue Devil rookie points chart with 19.
At the half, Duke held a 12-0 shot advantage led by Payne and Gibbons with three each. A total of seven Blue Devils attempted shots in the first half.
The first 20 minutes of the second half featured only one shot by #Duke junior Imani Dorsey, but Taylor Francis of Pitt was there once again for the save.
Pittsburgh (2-14-1, 1-8-0) featured its first two shots of the match in the 67th minute, but one went high and the other was corralled by Duke goalkeeper EJ Proctor.
Duke couldn’t push anything past the stingy Pitt defense the rest of the way as the Blue Devils finished the match with an 18-2 shot advantage, including 15 shots on goal. Francis finished the match with 13 saves for the Panthers.
Proctor, who is from Wilson, N.C., registered her eighth shutout of the season as she totaled one save over 90 minutes of play. She now owns 11 career shutouts in ACC action, which ranks second all-time in the Duke record books.
Both Payne and Gibbons finished the match with four shots each.
Duke’s win Sunday also clinched one of the top four seeds in the upcoming ACC Championship that will open Sunday, Oct. 30. The Blue Devils’ match will be held at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C., at 1 p.m., with the final brackets released Thursday, Oct. 27 following the conclusion of play.
Notes: • Duke’s win at Pitt is the fourth road ACC win this season, which is tied for a school record along with the 2011 squad. • The Blue Devils moved to 4-0 versus Pitt since the Panthers joined the ACC. • Duke has scored 18 goals in ACC play, which is tied for the second-most in school history against ACC opponents.