CHAPEL HILL, N.C. Ė After registering its first victory of the season on Friday, the Duke Women’s Soccer team had its first loss of the year on Sunday as the Blue Devils fell, 2-0, to second-ranked Texas A&M in the final day of the Carolina Nike Classic at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Blue Devils dropped to 1-1-2, while the Aggies improved to 3-1 in 2007.
“We created more opportunities [this weekend],” said Duke Head Coach Robbie Church. “I was very concerned coming out of California last week. Not only were we not scoring goals we were not creating opportunities. This time we created opportunities and goals are coming.”
Texas A&M started on the attack early by taking the first two attempts of the match at the 2:16 and 5:39 marks off the legs of Ashlee Pistorius and Rachel Shipley. The Blue Devils came back with a shot of their own almost three minutes later as junior Lorraine Quinn sent a blast high and to the right of the goal.
Duke had an excellent scoring opportunity in the 15th minute as freshmen Gretchen Miller passed the ball to sophomore CJ Ludemann, who sent a perfect feed to a streaking sophomore KayAnne Gummersall. Gummersall, who is from Wilmette, Ill., broke off to the left of the box and sent a left-footed rocket that went just right of the post.
After taking four more shots, the Aggies had their best chance in the 28th minute as Pistorius found herself open in front of the goal but Blue Devil keeper Allison Lipsher made a diving stop with her body on a shot that ended up going wide left over the goal. Texas A&M then had a corner kick but it sailed back behind the goal. Shortly after this, the Aggie offense totaled a header shot by off a corner.
Texas A&M then got on the board at the 32:26 mark as Paige Carmichael sent a free kick that went off the back of Pistorius. The ball settled in front of an open goal that Laura Grace Robinson punched into the back right of the goal to give the Aggies a 1-0 lead.
The goal for the Aggies broke a 6:03:33 scoreless streak for Lipsher, who had not allowed a goal since Nov. 1, 2006 against Florida State in the ACC Tournament. Lipsher, a native Honolulu, Hawaii, had recorded five consecutive shutouts.
Duke came back and had a shot of its own in the 34th minute as Christie McDonald found Gummersall, who tried to flip the ball over the goalkeeper but Kristin Arnold made the save.
As time winded down in the first half, Texas A&M sent a flurry of shots by Cydne Currie and Elisabeth Jones at the Duke goal but Lipsher made excellent saves to keep the Aggie lead at 1-0.
At the end of the first half, Texas A&M held a 12-3 shot advantage with Lipsher registering four saves in the first 45 minutes of action.
Coming out of halftime, sophomore Elisabeth Redmond sent a left-footed shot just past the Aggie left post. The Blue Devils had another great chance five minutes later as junior Kelly Hathorn rocketed a shot towards the left side of the A&M goal that was blocked. Gummersall tried to get a foot on it but the ball was just out of her reach.
Duke stayed on the attack with a shot by sophomore Sara Murphy and two corner kicks but could not get anything in the net. After Duke took the first four shots of the second half, Texas A&M attempted its first shot in the 57th minute off the leg of Shipley.
“We are really emphasizing coming out for 90 minutes,” said Quinn on the strong start in the second half. “Last weekend we little bit of spurts and there were periods where we were not working as hard as we should have. We looked a little bit lackadaisical. Robbie at halftime kept encouraging us and told us to keep putting in our hard work. I think we came out with just as much energy in the second half.”
The Aggies were then able to grab a 2-0 lead as Melissa Garey netted her first goal of the season in at the 60:23 mark. After a long ball the left side, Allison Martino crossed it to Garey in front of the goal. Garey and a Duke defender fell to the ground but Garey was able to jump up and punch the ball into the back right of the net past Lipsher, who didn’t have much of a chance to get a hand on it.
Duke wouldn’t back down as it kept trying to attack the Aggies as Quinn made a good move down the field and blasted a right-footed shot from 22 yards that deflected off a Texas A&M player and Arnold made a diving stop to keep the Blue Devils off the scoreboard in the 65th minute.
The Blue Devils added late shots by Gummersall, Ludemann, sophomore Jane Alukonis, freshman Rebecca Allen, Quinn and Redmond but the Aggie defense held strong to preserve the shutout. For the game, Texas A&M outshot Duke, 17-14. Lipsher finished the contest playing 90 minute, while registering six saves.
“We played hard I think on all areas of the field [today],” said Redmond. “On offense we obviously need to finish. Texas A&M is a great team and we did our best to create opportunities, which is think is good. We have gotten better every game and Elon will be a good test to see how much better we have gotten.”
In four matches this season, the Blue Devils have now scored only one goal and have now been held scoreless in seven out of their last eight matches dating back to last year.
“When you don’t score it can sometimes play with you a little mentally,” said Church. “We need to continue to do the stuff we are doing. We have been spending a lot of time finishing, a lot of time in the final third and we can see a lot of our work in the final third develop. The last part, which is the hard part of our game, is to score goals. I am confident it will come next week.”
After the opening the season on the road for the first four contests, the Blue Devils will return home to begin a six-game homestand on Thursday, Sept. 13 against Elon. The match is set for a 7:00 p.m. start. Duke will then host Dartmouth on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 1:00 p.m., against Dartmouth.
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