DURHAM, N.C. – The 2017 Duke women’s soccer season came to a heartbreaking end as the Blue Devils fell to No. 2 UCLA in a penalty kick shootout, 4-3, Friday evening at Orlando City Stadium in the NCAA Women’s College Cup semifinals. The game headed to penalty kicks after a scoreless 110 minutes.
Duke finished its historic 2017 campaign with a 23-2-1 overall record. The ACC regular season champions broke numerous school records, including single-season victories, shutouts (18), ranked wins (10), home victories (15), ACC wins (20) and ACC shutouts (8).
“Congratulations to UCLA; they are talented in a lot of different positions and very young,” head coach Robbie Church said. “Congratulations to Stanford too. It should be a great national championship. I am real proud of this team. This has been the best year that I have had as a coach. These young ladies are wonderful on and off the field. They gave me everything they’ve got every day. They didn’t want to be good, they wanted to be great, and they were great.
“I think that we had the better quality chances. We had some matchups we really liked, but it was hard to get as many people in the box as we needed. The kids worked hard all year long; they are just a wonderful group. I’m excited to see what they do and what they accomplish.”
Individually, the Blue Devils were paced by a number of stars throughout the season, including All-American seniors Imani Dorsey, Rebecca Quinn and Schuyler DeBree. The trio also earned three of the ACC’s top honors, with Dorsey being named ACC Offensive Player of the Year, Quinn ACC Midfielder of the Year and DeBree ACC Defender of the Year, as well as Church earning ACC Coach of the Year honors.
All-ACC First Team senior keeper EJ Proctor set the school record for career shutouts (35) and single-season clean sheets (14) with her performance on Friday night. The Wilson, N.C., native wrapped up one of the best goalkeeper careers in program history, etching her name at the top of four different records.
UCLA applied the pressure early on and kept possession for a majority of the first 45 while reeling off five shots. The Blue Devils mounted several runs in the first half with a couple of near misses, while a Dorsey shot at 34:00 forced the first UCLA save of the match.
The second half was more of a back-and-forth affair to start, even with the Bruins still maintaining a majority of possession. The solid play of Duke’s defensive line turned away every UCLA opportunity to keep the score level at 0-0 and send play into extra time.
Overtime saw UCLA take a number of shots, with several blocked by the stifling Blue Devil defense.
A scoreless 110 brought two top-ranked teams to a decisive shootout in Orlando. A Blue Devil miss would give UCLA a 2-1 advantage in PKs until Proctor made a spectacular jumping save to put the shootout back on level ground. However, a late Duke miss and UCLA make would advance the Bruins to the finals of the College Cup to face Stanford.
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