CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The 23rd-ranked Duke Women’s Soccer Team made a fierce second half rally, but came up one-goal short on Thursday evening as the Blue Devils fell, 2-1, at 12th-ranked North Carolina at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Blue Devils fell to 7-3-3 overall and 2-2-1 in the ACC, while the Tar Heels improved to 10-3-0, 4-1-0.
“It was a great game,” said Duke Head Coach Robbie Church. “I thought that once we played our style, when we put the ball on the ground, I thought we were the better team. I thought our midfield was fantastic tonight. I thought we passed, we moved, we took players on at the right time and we changed our points of attack.”
The Tar Heels got on the board first at the 3:26 mark of the first half as Nikki Washington sent a cross into the front of the goal. Blue Devil keeper Allison Lipsher tried to come out and get a hand on the ball but it floated over her outstretched arms and went to North Carolina’s Whitney Engen where she punched in her third goal of the season into an open net.
The Blue Devils then evened the match in the 15th minute off the leg of Redmond. The play began as junior Lorraine Quinn fed the ball to Redmond and the sophomore from Morristown, N.J., split the UNC defenders and chipped in her fifth goal of the year into the top right of the Tar Heel net.
North Carolina once again took the lead, 2-1, at the 24:03 mark as Yael Averbuch and Whitney Engen found a wide open Casey Nogueira who rocketed her eighth goal of the season from 11 yards out.
The Tar Heels continued to stay on the attack as Engen charged on a cross in front of the goal but Lipsher made a great save with her body. Then Tobin Heath headed a ball that went just wide left. Both shots occurred within a little over a minute. North Carolina added three more shots before Heath blasted another attempt that was heading into the top right of the goal but Lipsher was able to knock it back over the top of the crossbar at the 41:39 mark.
At the end of the first period, North Carolina held a 2-1 lead and an 8-2 shot advantage.
“I thought we even had a little nerves in the first half, which upsets me,” said Church. “We are a very good team and we have to realize we are a very good team. I am not sure if we realize how good we are.”
Duke had the first scoring opportunity of the second half late in the 55th and early in the 56th minutes as Quinn sent a cross into freshman Kendall Bradley where she took a shot from three yards out that went off North Carolina goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and then off the crossbar. The ball then came back to Bradley who headed a shot off the post and then took another shot that was stopped by Harris right on the goal line. All five shots were taken in a matter of five seconds.
“We didn’t have a ton of opportunities, but we had some good opportunities,” said Church. “The one that stayed out I don’t know how the heck it stayed out. We banked it off the crossbar twice, it was a great service, great run in the box and it is just frustrating.”
Duke and North Carolina started trading shot attempts in the 62nd minute as Blue Devil sophomore Sara Murphy fired a shot from 36 yards away that went just wide right of the goal, off a corner kick from Ludemann. Averbuch of North Carolina came back to take a long shot attempt that Lipsher dove to make her fifth save of the night.
Blue Devil junior Kelly Hathorn responded off a long feed from Ludemann and took a shot from 16 yards out that Harris was able to corral. North Carolina had the next three attempts as Rachel Givan sent a header that went high and Averbuch rocketed a long shot that went off the arm of Duke defender Meaghan FitzGerald for a direct kick. Averbuch blasted a perfect shot that went to the right of Duke’s defensive wall and a diving stop by Lipsher kept the score, 2-1, in favor of the Tar Heels.
Duke had its final scoring opportunity in the 82nd minute as the Blue Devils sent a long feed down the middle of the field where Hathorn was charging. Harris came out of the box for the Tar Heels to stop the attempt and the ball came off her body and onto the feet of Duke freshman Gretchen Miller. With a wide open goal and only two North Carolina defenders in-between her, Miller’s shot attempt went wide right.
For the game, North Carolina held a 16-8 shot advantage. Lipsher, who is a senior from Honolulu, Hawaii, finished the contest with seven saves in 90 minutes, while Harris added three for the Tar Heels.
“It is not a moral victory,” said Church. “We have had three loses to top-five teams, basically. We are knocking on the door with elite teams, but we have to be able to knock the door down. We are very close to it and have to do some more work in the final third. KayAnne Gummersall didn’t play and she is huge for us up front. The players that did play up front -- we had to move Kendall Bradley from the midfield to up front, but everyone has injuries this time of year.”
With the victory, North Carolina takes a 2-0.5 lead in the Carlyle Cup, a year-long competition between the Tar Heels and Blue Devils.
Duke will have the weekend off before traveling to 18th-ranked Wake Forest on Thursday, Oct. 18 for a 7:00 p.m. contest.
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