ATHENS, GA. – After believing it deserved an invitation to the 2007 NCAA College Cup and not knowing if it would get an at-large bid this past Monday for the selection show, the Duke women’s soccer team showed why they were given a second chance on Sunday as the Blue Devils upset 13th-ranked Georgia to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16. The victory for Duke came at the Turner Soccer Complex in Athens, Ga., where the Bulldogs had registered a 10-2-1 overall record this season.
“First I want to congratulate the University of Georgia on just a fantastic season,” said Duke Head Coach Robbie Church. “I know three or four years ago when Georgia was looking for a soccer coach, they went out and hired Patrick Baker, and they hit a home run with that one. In three seasons what he has done with this program is fantastic. They are going to be a national power year-in and year-out.”
Duke improved to 9-5-7 overall, while Georgia fell to 18-4-2. The Blue Devils will next play Indiana who upset fourth-ranked Purdue in penalty kicks on Sunday. The Hoosiers tied the Boilermakers, 0-0, through two overtimes and then won 4-3 in penalty kicks. Duke and Indiana will play either Nov. 23, 24 or 25 at a site to be determined.
“I’m very proud of my young ladies today,” said Church. “Obviously the first 20 minutes, I felt Georgia did a great job and was on top of us. I thought we were fortunate to get out of the first twenty minutes, then we started to connect some passes and we started to put some things together. We started to play our game. I thought in the second half our young ladies played great. The one goal was a world-class goal and that’s what it took to beat a team like this.”
The Blue Devils advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the second time under the leadership of Church and the fifth time in school history -- 1992, 1994, 1996, 2004 and 2007. The last time Duke traveled to UCLA and fell, 2-0.
Georgia came out and dominated the play early on in the first half as the Bulldogs took the first five attempts, but Duke goalkeeper Allison Lipsher saved the first one and junior Lorraine Quinn saved one on the goal line, while the other three went wide over the first 15:41 of action.
Sophomore CJ Ludemann attempted the first Blue Devil shot in the 20th minute and then Caroline Simpson came right back with a shot that was saved by Lipsher. Duke then took control as freshman Rebecca Allen, junior Kelly Hathorn and Quinn each fired shots over three minute span, but one was saved by Bulldog keeper Michelle Betos and the other two went high.
Each team added one shot each as late in the first half but neither team could get anything past the defenses. At the end of the first stanza, Georgia led 7-5 in shots, while Duke totaled four key saves.
“I think that you could definitely see a little fatigue in us, especially at the start of the game,” said Quinn. “It was a little scrappy. We couldn’t get a hold of it. Once we did get a hold of it, we got a little bit more controlled. We really had to battle, and we battled the whole time. We did a great job at it, so fatigue didn’t hurt us.”
Duke came out in the second half with Quinn and Hathorn each registering the first two shots of the period, but Georgia then registered three excellent scoring opportunities as Megan Tomlinson had a header in the 58th minute but Allen saved the ball off the line. Caroline Simpson then had a shot for the Bulldogs but it was blocked and Danielle Abelson blasted a shot that was saved by Lipsher. All three of these attempts happened in a span of three minutes.
Sophomore Elisabeth Redmond finally took her first shot of the match in the 63rd minute that was blocked, but she came right back at the 70:25 mark to put the Blue Devils on the board. Junior Kelly McCann played the ball to the right side of the field just outside Georgia’s penalty box. Redmond, a native of Morristown, N.J., latched on to the pass, took a touch back inside to put the ball on the left foot, and struck a bending ball into the top left corner of the Bulldog net. Betos made a diving effort and got a hand on the shot but couldn’t catch enough to parry it wide.
“Kelly McCann played a really good entry ball to her,” said Church. “She turned and started to run at their back line. I noticed that none of their back players stepped to her. She knows that if they don’t step to her she has the freedom to hit. She then cranked it and it was a great goal.”
A 5-6 forward, Redmond totaled her team-best seventh goal this season and her fourth game-winning goal of the year. McCann, who is from Carlsbad, Calif., posted her fourth assist this year.
“We were definitely fortunate to get out of that first 20 minutes, but we were tired,” said Redmond. “It took the first twenty minutes for us to settle down after fatigue set in. We had to bounce back. I think that’s what has been a testament to our team this season is our ability to push through fatigue especially from all the overtimes we have played.
Over the final 19:35, the Blue Devil defense stood strong and allowed the Bulldogs only one shot off the head of Danielle Abelson that went high in the 83rd minute.
“We did a great job of keeping a hold of the game towards the end,” said Church. “We didn’t panic and we kept possession of it.”
Lipsher, who is from Honolulu, Hawaii, finished with three saves on the afternoon and registered her 32nd career shutout. She continues to rank fourth on the ACC career shutout charts and is two away from matching the Duke career record of 34 held by Melissa Carr.
For the match, Duke and Georgia each collected 12 shots with the Blue Devils outshot the Bulldogs 7-5 in the second half. Duke finished with six total saves, while Georgia held a 6-2 advantage in corner kicks.
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