DURHAM, N.C.ó Duke Head Women’s Soccer Coach Robbie Church has seen improvement each week for the Blue Devils and it continued on Thursday night at Koskinen Stadium as Duke scored five first half goals on its way to a 6-0 blanking of Elon. The victory improves the Blue Devils to 2-1-2 on the early season, while Elon falls to 2-2-1.
“We have been playing well and the last two weeks have made huge strides,” said Church. “I was thinking today before the game I am not really sure if I had a team that has made such big strides in the last two weeks. You could see it in training, in our games and going back watching a lot of film. It all just kind of came together [tonight].”
After scoring only one goal the first four matches, Duke came out early and often on the attack on Thursday as the Blue Devils scored four goals in a span of 14 minutes. Duke led 4-0 just 24 minutes into the contest.
“It was great,” said Church of the big win. “Especially for the players as I know how hard they have been working. They have been frustrated at times with it [lack of scoring]. Today we had quality services, had quality runs and had people get in the box. We did the things that led to goals. We wanted to focus on not just scoring goals but we wanted to focus on doing the right things and the ball would end up in the back of the net.”
The Blue Devils got it going in the 10th minute as junior Christie McDonald sent a high cross to junior Kelly Hathorn, who headed a high ball back to Elisabeth Redmond. Redmond, a sophomore from Morristown, N.J., settled it and drove towards the Phoenix box where she blasted a shot that went off Elon’s goalkeeper Lauren Wisniewski’s hands and into the back right of the net. The goal for Redmond was her second of the season.
“It felt really good to beat a team by that much,” said Redmond. “Obviously, we didn’t anticipate it being like that. We told ourselves that we were going to come out really hard and set the done early in the game. That is what we wanted to do is get the first, second, third goals and the rest would come.”
Just six minutes later junior Kelly McCann had a throw-in to Hathorn, who crossed the ball to junior Lorraine Quinn. A product of Farmingdale, N.Y., Quinn then was able to hit the upper right hand corner from right outside the six, which was her fifth career goal.
Not giving Elon a chance to rest, the Blue Devils connected on their third goal of the match as McDonald found Redmond who rocketed a shot off the crossbar. The ball sat down at the feet of Hathorn in front of the net where she easily registered her first career goal at the 18:12 mark.
“It was very exciting,” said Hathorn on the 6-0 victory. “We haven’t scored this many goals in one game since I think my freshman year. This is the most goals we have scored in a long time and a lot of people got their first goals so that is always exciting. Everybody was all over the place tonight and working for each other. Everyone had fun tonight.”
Concluding the impressive 14-minute run was freshman Rebecca Allen as she used her left foot to hit the left corner of the Elon net at the 24:02 mark off assists from McCann and Quinn. With six minutes remaining in the half, sophomore CJ Ludemann fired a direct kick at the Phoenix goal that Wisniewski couldn’t hold on to. Freshman Carey Goodman, who is from Greensboro, N.C., grabbed the rebound and sent in her first career goal to put the Blue Devils ahead 5-0.
“I was excited,” Allen said about her goal. “I had a similar shot the other game and I missed it wide so I said lets get this sucker in. I was pleased to get it in. This game was huge for us and now we got a big boost of confidence. We had a lot of people that scored so we know that we have a lot of people that can score on the team and we don’t have to just count on one or two people. We have a bunch of people that can get it in.”
At the end of the first 45 minutes, Duke led 5-0 and outshot Elon 18-1. Senior goalkeeper Allison Lipsher registered one save in the first stanza.
In the second half, the Blue Devil scoring slowed down but they kept taking shots outshoting the Phoenix, 17-1. In the 86th minute, freshman Gretchen Miller connected on a right-footed shot from 20 yards out that the Elon goalkeeper Lizz Johnson had no chance of getting her hands on. Assisting on Miller’s first career goal was Meaghan FitzGerald and Kendall Bradley.
For the match, Duke outshot Elon 35-2. The 35 shots for the Blue Devils were a season high. Lipsher finished with one save in 45 minutes and junior Cassidy Powers saw action in the second half and faced only one shot. In goal for Elon, Wisniewski played 45 minutes and collected seven saves, while Johnson also notched seven saves in the second half.
“Once we got one or maybe two [goals], the confidence level went way up,” said Hathorn. “Finally, everyone was one the same page and saw we could do it and it just started falling after that.”
The six goals for the Blue Devils were the most scored since the 2004 season when Duke downed Virginia Tech, 9-3. A total of 10 Blue Devils took shots on the night, while Duke also hit two crossbars and one post. Duke’s defense has now allowed only two goals in five matches and has collected shutouts in four of the five contests. A total of four Blue Devils registered their first career goals on the night -- Hathorn, Allen, Goodman and Miller.
“We have the makings that if we continue to work hard and continue our focus, we can be a very good team,” said Church.
The Blue Devils will next host Dartmouth on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 1:00 p.m., at Koskinen Stadium.
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