BLOOMINGTON, Ind. On a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon in Bloomington, Ind., the Duke women’s soccer team did something only two other Blue Devil squads have done before -- advanced to the NCAA College Cup Elite Eight -- as Duke defeated Indiana, 2-0, at Yeagley Field at Armstrong Stadium. Duke improves to 10-5-7, while the Hoosiers concludes their season with a 13-7-3 record. The Blue Devils will next travel to South Bend, Ind., to face Notre Dame on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7:00 p.m.
“I’m very, very proud,” said Church. “For us to be able to go on the road for a third straight week, fly out here, it’s the first time this year we’ve been able to fight through the weather against a very good IU team, I was very proud of us. I thought we started off fairly well, I thought we weren’t as sharp in the first half in the final third, but in the second half we got a lot sharper in the final third.”
The 2007 Duke team joins only the 1992 and 1994 squads that advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. Blue Devil Head Coach Robbie Church is in seventh year at Duke and will be taking his first Blue Devil team to the Elite Eight.
“Nothing’s been easy for us all year,” said Church. “The girls have fought hard all year, and I think the key thing is when your team is going to hit the stride. There’s no question about it, we’re playing our best soccer of the year. We’ve had some ups and downs, but I think the girls have just come to practice every day and worked hard and they’ve come to games and worked hard and now things are starting to go our way.”
Indiana jumped out on the attack in the first half as Kristin Arnold took the first shot of the match in the fourth minute that went high. The Blue Devils came right back with a shot of their own just three minutes later as freshman Rebecca Allen sent a shot in that was saved by Hoosier goalkeeper Lauren Hollandsworth.
Duke then took three out of the next for attempts from the legs of sophomore CJ Ludemann, sophomore Elisabeth Redmond and junior Lorraine Quinn, but all three were saved by Hollandsworth. Blue Devil junior Kelly Hathorn added another shot in the 31st minute that was blocked as Duke continued to keep the ball on the offensive end.
Redmond took two straight corner kicks in the 33rd and 34th minutes and then Duke got on the board at the 40:50 mark. Less than eight minutes after entering the match, sophomore KayAnne Gummersall headed in her first goal of the 2007 season after Indiana goalkeeper Hollandsworth tried to punch out a ball from a Ludemann free kick.
Gummersall, who is from Wilmette, Ill., has been bothered by an injured ankle for most of the season and has seen limited action so far in the NCAA College Cup. The 5-8 forward led Duke in scoring a year ago with seven goals and two assists for 16 points.
“The first person who scored, KayAnne Gummersall, was our leading scorer last year and she got hurt the fourth weekend of the season,” said Church. “She’s worked and worked and worked and she’s had setbacks, but she’s never given up. And she scored her first goal of the year at a crucial time at the end of the half for us.”
Quinn and Ludemann added shots as the half came to a close but the first stanza ended with Duke leading, 1-0. The Blue Devils held an 8-2 shot advantage in the first 45 minutes.
”We struggled a lot with the style that IU plays, because they close down really quickly and tackle really hard,” said Redmond. “The first few minutes we struggled with that, but then we figured out that one touch and a shot was the way to beat their defense.”
Duke continued to put the pressure on Indiana in the second half as Redmond opened the action with a shot that was saved by Hollandsworth. Arnold added the Hoosiers third shot of the day that went wide. Hathorn and sophomore Jane Alukonis then registered shots over a three-minute span.
In the 62nd minute, Ludemann tried to play a ball wide to Redmond on the near side, but her initial pass was broken up by the Indiana defense. Ludemann followed up on the play, though, and found a streaking Redmond behind the defense and sent Duke’s leading scorer in alone on Hollandsworth. Redmond then drew Hollandsworth off the near post and sent a shot to the near side that just stayed out of the freshman’s reach to make it a two-goal lead at 62:16.
”C.J. Ludemann, who had the assist, tried to play me a ball initially and it got blocked, and it was her resilience that got me the ball,” said Redmond. “Robbie told me to stay out wide because I tend to come in more, and that really paid off.”
Allen and Gummersall each added shots after Redmond’s goal, but Indiana then tried to mount an attack in the 69th minute. Chloe McKay, Kelly Lawrence and Katy Stewart each attempted shots but Blue Devil goalkeeper Allison Lipsher saved one, while Lawrence’s shot was blocked and the other was wide.
Indiana was able to manage one final shot in the 85th minute but it was blocked outside of the goal box.
Duke concluded the match with a 14-8 shot advantage and the Blue Devils led 6-5 in corner kicks.
“I thought our backs were terrific,” said Church. “They read the pressure, they stepped up when they needed to, they dropped off. Alli [Lipsher] did a great job of connecting with the backs on a tough day and I thought she made two or three nice saves to keep them off the board.”
Lipsher registered her second straight shutout in the NCAA College Cup and her fifth career shutout in NCAA Tournament action. A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Lipsher now has registered 33 career shutouts, which is one shy of matching the Duke career shutout mark held by Melissa Carr. She is also two shutouts away from tying the ACC career mark held by Aly Winget of North Carolina.
”We’ve really been stressing a lot of communication and just controlling the ball and starting our attack from the back,” said Lipsher. “I think that’s something that really unfolded well for us today. I’m really proud of the way the defense is playing. We have a very young defense and they’ve stepped up and matured a lot this season.”
With the shutout on Sunday, Lipsher has allowed only one goal in the NCAA College Cup over the last 510 minutes the last two years. Lipsher has collected seven shutouts and a 0.75 goals-against average this season.
”Both 1-0 and 2-0 are very scary leads to have,” said Lipsher. “It’s just a matter of focus and I think that we managed to stay focused throughout the entire game and throughout the second half when we had those dangerous leads.”
Duke will next take on Notre Dame, which owns an 18-4-2 record and are riding a 16-match winning streak. The Blue Devils own a 3-6-1 overall record against the Irish, but haven’t played since 1996 when Notre Dame defeated Duke, 2-0.
Other Duke Notes:
The Blue Devils are making their 14th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and has advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 on five different occasions -- 1992, 1994, 1996, 2004 and 2007. The Blue Devils are making their fifth straight appearance in the NCAA College Cup and have won at least one contest in the tournament each of the last eight appearances.
Duke has only advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight on two occasions -- 1992 and 1994. The Blue Devils first year in Division I women’s soccer in 1992, Duke advanced to the NCAA Championship before falling to North Carolina. The only other appearance in the Elite Eight was in 1994 before falling to North Carolina, 3-1.
Duke and Connecticut are only two unranked teams remaining in the 2007 NCAA College Cup by the Soccer America poll.
Over the last five NCAA College Cup matches Duke has played, the Blue Devils have only allowed one goal.
The Blue Devils have posted a 3-2-3 overall record in true road matches this season.
A total of 11 Blue Devils have scored at least one goal this season, while 15 Blue Devils have posted one or more assists.
Duke has only lost five matches this season and all five came against ranked opponents-- second-ranked Texas A&M (2-0), fourth-ranked Virginia (2-0), 12th-ranked North Carolina (2-1), 25th-ranked Clemson (1-0), 11th-ranked Wake Forest (1-0).
The Blue Devil defense has not allowed more than two goals in any matches this season.
Senior goalkeeper Allison Lipsher has totaled five career shutouts in NCAA Tournament action -- Georgia and Indiana in 2007, Louisville and Tennessee in 2006 and Virginia in 2004. She did not allow a goal in the 2006 NCAA College Cup in 220 minutes.
Duke has graduated 17 seniors over the last two years and has only one senior that plays significant action.