DURHAM, N.C. – For the second straight match to open the season, the 12th-ranked Duke women’s soccer team registered an early goal and went on to pick a 2-0 victory over 21st-ranked South Carolina on Sunday afternoon in Koskinen Stadium.
The Blue Devils improved to 2-0-0 on the year, while the Gamecocks dropped to 1-1-0. So far in the first two contests, Duke has posted shutouts and outshot opponents, 35-9.
“I thought it was a really solid performance,” said Duke Head Coach Robbie Church. “It was a fantastic first half. We played really well and created a lot of opportunities in the first half. South Carolina is a great team, a nationally ranked team, picked second in the SEC and they go to the NCAA Tournament every year. I knew they would come back at us hard in the second half.”
South Carolina came out and took the first shot of the match that was saved by Blue Devil netminder Tara Campbell, but Duke went on to control most of the rest of the first stanza.
Following a cross that hit the far right post from sophomore Mollie Pathman and a header by redshirt junior Ashley Rape, the Blue Devils took the lead in the seventh minute. Sophomore Laura Weinberg threw the ball into junior Nicole Lipp, who then drove towards the top of the box. From 22 yards away, Lipp blasted a right-footed shot that hit the right post and went into the back of the net to put Duke ahead 1-0.
“Nicole can hit a ball,” commented Church. “I thought she was going to get a second goal in the end of the game there. She can strike a ball, she can strike a free kick. It was big. It didn’t matter who got it, but to get it early in the match to make it 1-0, especially in this heat. It was a huge goal for us to get.”
Duke continued to put pressure on the South Carolina defense the rest of the first half as the Blue Devils outshot the Gamecocks, 13-2. Freshman Kelly Cobb came off the bench and attempted four shots in the first with two being on goal.
South Carolina came out in the second half and controlled the game as it attempted four of the first five shots and had the Blue Devils on their heels. Then in the 64th minute Duke had its biggest play of the match from Campbell in goal.
The Gamecocks went on the attack and featured a one-on-one matchup with senior Kortney Rhoades against Campbell for the Blue Devils. Rhoades drove in from the right side of the box and tried to get the ball to the far left post but Campbell was able to deflect the attempt with her right foot as she slid.
“I mean, when you have a breakaway like that, you just want to put it in her mind that she sees me,” said Campbell. “I don’t want her to be looking at the goal; I want her to see me. I just tried to come out and make myself look big and luckily she put it just in my range. My backs did a great job tracking the people on the other side because they had two-three running on that could have easily finished that if no one was there.”
Energized from the great save, Duke came back only 24 seconds later and put the Blue Devils ahead 2-0. Sophomore Kaitlyn Kerr beat two defenders and fired a 20-yard shot into the top left of the goal for her fifth career tally. Kerr, who is out of Bensalem, Pa., finished the contest with three shots.
“That’s part of my game that I need to work on is dribbling and taking on people,” commented Kerr. “I can pass well, but going on-goal and getting off shots will take my game to the next level. That’s what I need to do. That’s what they told me when I came off in the first half, the second half I came out and tried to do what they said and it worked.”
Duke went on to outshot South Carolina, 17-8, for the match. The Blue Devils were led by Cobb with four attempts, while Weinberg added three. Pathman and Lipp each took two shots on the afternoon.
“To make a save like that always pumps some life into the team, it’s a wake-up call,” said Campbell. “So it’s really exciting when you get a save like that and from that the excitement builds to an actual goal; and we needed that goal because they were pressing us. To be up 2-0 was big.”
The Blue Devils were led in the net by Campbell, who is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. She finished the match with six saves and registered her second shutout of the season and 16th of her career. Campbell’s 16 shutouts now ranks tied for third on Duke’s all-time career charts along with Thora Helgadottir, who lettered from 2000-03.
“I was impressed with our team today,” added Church. “I was impressed with our mental outlook. We started off both games this weekend with early goals. That was a huge plus for us. To get two wins, two shutouts, and create the opportunities that we did, I’m very, very happy with that.”
Duke will next compete in the Carolina Nike Classic on Aug. 26 against Houston and on Aug. 28 versus defending NCAA Champion Notre Dame. The match against Houston will kick off at 5:00 p.m., while the Fighting Irish contest will start at 1:00 p.m., at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Blue Devil Notes:
• Duke opened the season with back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 2008.
• Four different Blue Devils have scored goals so far this season.
• Five different Duke standouts have assisted on four goals scored.
• Junior Libby Jandl played the entire 90 minutes on the defensive end.
• Sophomore Gilda Doria left the match in the second half with two face lacerations and a bloody nose.