CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The 12th-ranked Duke women’s soccer team registered its third shutout of the season as the Blue Devils downed New Mexico, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon in the UNC Nike Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Duke improved to 3-1 on the year and notched the third 1-0 victory of the season, while New Mexico fell to 1-3 overall.
“I thought we played some great soccer today,” said Duke head coach Robbie Church. “The first 25 minutes was unbelievable. We are just not scoring goals. We left New Mexico alive as we should have been up four or five at halftime.”
The Blue Devils once again kicked off the match on the attack and pounded shot after shot at the Lobo defense.
Duke got on the board in the 20th minute as senior Mollie Pathman fired a cross in from the left side to senior Kaitlyn Kerr. A product of Bensalem, Pa., Kerr blasted a shot that bounced off New Mexico keeper Cassie Ulrich. Kerr grabbed the rebound and one-timed it into the back of the net for her first goal of the season and 24th of her career.
“Mollie had a great play in there as I was just kind of getting in there for the rebound,” Kerr. “I was lucky enough to put it in. Our team played great the whole half leading up to it. I think it was a by-product to the team playing awesome.”
It marked the first goal Duke has scored in the first half this season and the first tally New Mexico has allowed in 2013. Kerr’s goal was also only the sixth first half ledger the Lobos have allowed since Sept. 18, 2011.
At the end of the first half, the Blue Devils held a 19-2 shot advantage led by junior Kelly Cobb with four, while freshman Toni Payne and senior Laura Weinberg added three each.
New Mexico came out of the gates strong in the second half and outshot the Blue Devils 3-1 early, but Duke responded with an 8-0 advantage to close the match. The Blue Devils were led by Kerr with six shots, Weinberg with five and Cobb with four attempts. Duke was very close numerous times but couldn’t add to the goal total.
“We were better today than we were on Friday so that is a good thing,” commented Church. “That is what we are looking for. We are young as we started five freshmen and played seven in the match. We got a snapshot of what we could be in the first 25 minutes of the match. Our goal was to win two games this weekend and that is what we did. So I am very happy with that.”
Redshirt sophomore Ali Kershner collected her second shutout of the season in her second start in goal as she notched two saves over 90 minutes. Ulrich added 13 saves in goal for the Lobos.
Over the two games of the UNC Nike Classic, the Blue Devils lost numerous players due to injuries. The student-athletes will be evaluated this week to see about their availability for next weekend’s Duke Classic.
“We have a couple of days to rest and try to get us healed,” said Church. “We have the toughest tournament in the country coming next weekend with North Carolina, West Virginia and UCLA. Other teams won’t be concerned with our injuries so we have to move on and the next player up will have to be ready to perform.”
The Blue Devils will next host the Duke Nike Classic on Friday, Sept. 6 and Sunday, Sept. 8. It will feature four teams ranked in the top 12 nationally – North Carolina (1), UCLA (2), West Virginia (10) and Duke (12). Duke will open the classic on Friday hosting West Virginia at 6:00 p.m., followed by North Carolina and UCLA at 8 p.m. On Sunday, the Tar Heels will take on West Virginia at 11 a.m. and the Blue Devils will host UCLA at 1 p.m.
• Natasha Anasi started her team-best 54th straight contest. • The Blue Devils featured five freshmen in the starting lineup – Lizzy Raben, Christina Gibbons, Malinda Allen, Rebecca Quinn, Toni Payne. Three of those freshmen were on defense – Raben, Gibbons, Allen. • Kaitlyn Kerr now owns 65 career points and is one away from tying Katherine Remy (66) on the Duke career points list. Her 24 career goals ranks tied for ninth on the Duke career charts. Kerr also now owns 178 shots to move into ninth place on Duke’s list. • Junior defender Tabria Williford did not dress today after being injured on Friday against Kennesaw State with concussion-like symptoms. • Redshirt senior Kim DeCesare did not start on Sunday after dealing with a virus the last few days.