DURHAM, N.C. – A late first half goal was the difference Sunday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium, as the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils (1-1-0) dropped a 2-1 decision to the Illinois Fighting Illini (1-1-0) to close out the opening weekend of play.
Despite striking first thanks to Taylor Racioppi’s second goal in as many games, the Blue Devils were unable to overcome a quick Illini response and an own goal in the final seconds of the first half.
Racioppi took a ball into the box from Kayla McCoy and tapped it past the keeper to give Duke the 1-0 advantage in the 16th minute of play. Illinois would respond two minutes later on a deep shot from Makena Silber that hit the left upper 90 to tie things up at 1-1. The Illini would then bring the pressure in the final minutes of the half after fending off a pair of Blue Devil attempts, reeling off two shots of their own. One of the Illini’s attempts looked poised to go into goal before Duke defender Taylor Mitchell saved the shot attempt to preserve a 1-1 ballgame.
The Illini would finally break the tie in the final minute of the first 45 as their third and final corner of the half resulted in an own goal. The service from the right deflected off the Blue Devils and into goal, pushing Illinois ahead, 2-1, at intermission.
Duke came out of the break with a furious rally that featured 11 shots and five corner kicks, while the Illini would only manage one attempt and no corners in the final 45. Of the 11 attempts, Marykate McGuire reeled off three, with one being blocked, the other tip saved by the keeper and the final sailing just high. In the 73rd minute, Delaney Graham made a run into the left side of the 18’ and rolled a shot that hit the right post and deflected across the goal line and out of bounds.
The score was nearly leveled in the final minutes, as Karlie Paschall delivered a free kick into the box to Chelsea Burns whose touch was just saved by the Illinois keeper. The Blue Devils attempted one more shot in the final 30 seconds, but could not connect as Illinois secured the win.
Duke owned the shots battle, 17-5, and tallied 10 corners to Illinois’ three. Sunday’s contest was a physical one from start to finish, as a total of 27 fouls were called. Illinois received 15 fouls, including a yellow card in the second half, while Duke was issued 12.
Next up for Duke is the first road contest of 2018, as the Blue Devils travel to Washington, D.C., to face No. 22 Georgetown. The contest, set for a 4 p.m. ET start at Shaw Field, will be live streamed on the Big East Digital Network.
Fans can keep up with all things Duke women’s soccer by following the program on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching for “DukeWSoc”. Behind-the-scenes content of women’s soccer and all Duke athletic programs can be found on Snapchat by following “dukeathletics”.