NOTRE DAME, IND. On a frigid evening in Notre Dame, Ind., the Duke women’s soccer team battled 11th-ranked Notre Dame to the end, but fell, 3-2, at Alumni Field in the NCAA College Cup quarterfinals. The Blue Devils fell behind 2-0 but came back to even the match in the second half. An experienced Irish team received the game-winning goal in the 77th minute to advance to the NCAA College Cup semifinals.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate Notre Dame,” said Duke Head Coach Robbie Church. “We wish them the best of luck and go to the College Cup and win it all. They are a handful. They came out and really pressured us early in the match. We haven’t seen that much pressure in a long time -- since we left Chapel Hill in the middle of October. We didn’t handle it really well in the first half.”
Duke concludes the season with a 10-6-7 record, while Notre Dame improves to 19-4-2. The Blue Devils and Irish had to face temperatures that dropped to 17 degrees at game time. Notre Dame moves on to face Florida State in the semifinals on Dec. 7.
“I am very proud of the heart and effort that our girls showed during the course of 90 minutes,” said Church.
The Blue Devils had the first scoring opportunity of the game as sophomore CJ Ludemann raced down the midfield and found sophomore Elisabeth Redmond. Redmond passed the ball right back to a streaking Ludemann who found herself in a one-on-one chance with Notre Dame goalkeeper Lauren Karas, but Karas made a huge save diving to her right at 4:25.
Notre Dame came right back as two Irish attackers were in the Duke box. The Blue Devils were called for a foul and gave the Irish a free kick from right in front of the Duke goal. Brittany Bock fired a shot that was blocked by the Duke wall at the 4:45 mark.
The Blue Devils didn’t let down on offense as junior Kelly Hathorn took Duke’s second shot of the match from the top of the Notre Dame box, but it went wide left.
After a shot by Notre Dame’s Courtney Rosen that was saved by Lipsher, the Irish got on the board off the leg of Michele Weissenhofer at the 19:30 mark. Bock played a through ball to Weissenhofer who battled past the Blue Devil defense and hit her eighth goal of the season to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.
With the Irish goal, Notre Dame continued its streak of not trailing during the postseason. The goal marked only the second allowed by the Duke defense in the NCAA College Cup and broke a streak of 204:31 scoreless minutes.
For the final 25 minutes of the first half, Notre Dame controlled the action taking six shots, while holding the Blue Devils without an attempt. Lipsher, Duke’s senior goalkeeper from Honolulu, Hawaii, registered three saves and the Blue Devil defense added a block during the stretch.
Notre Dame held a 9-2 shot advantage as the first half came to a close. Lipsher totaled four saves, while Karas had one key save over the first 45 minutes.
In the second half, the Irish kept on that attack as Kerri Hanks took a free kick from just outside the box that went just wide left of the post.
Then off a corner kick at the 51:39 mark, Hanks sent a rocket to the middle of the Duke box that found Bock for a header into the right left corner of the Blue Devil goal. Lipsher had jumped to block the header but the ball came off her hands and into the net as both players collided. Notre Dame held a 2-0 lead.
“They got the second goal and that is obviously in soccer a huge lead, but it is also a dangerous lead,” said Church. “If you can just get one back and put the put the pressure on them that is huge.”
Duke finally got the ball on the Irish side of the field as Redmond was fouled on a run towards the box. Sophomore Jane Alukonis sent a free kick at the goal but it went high over the crossbar in the 54th minute.
The Blue Devils then registered their first corner kick of the match in the 56th minute of the match. Alukonis played a long ball to Ludemann which sent a kick to Hathorn. Hathorn, a junior from Durham, N.C., was in the right place at the right time and punched the ball with her right foot past the Notre Dame goal line. The goal for Hathorn was her sixth of the year and first of the NCAA College Cup and cut the Irish lead to 2-1.
Notre Dame would not let down as the Irish responded with a shot of its own as Amanda Cinalli fired a blast to the right of the goal but Lipsher dove to make her fifth save of the match.
Duke came back down the field and equalled the score at the 62:17 mark as Redmond and Alukonis found Ludemann outside of the Notre Dame box. She took a couple of touches and fired a 22-yard shot that hit the left corner of the net. Ludemann, a native of Holtsville, N.Y., earned her fifth goal of the season and also her first of the NCAA College Cup. It was the first time since 1996 that a team has tied a game against Notre Dame after trailing 2-0.
“CJ just buried a bomb,” said Church. “She has three or four of those this year. There was a little opening and the game was on that point.”
Ludemann added another shot in the 66th minute that went wide and then Notre Dame received the game-winning goal off the leg of Hanks at the 77:35 mark with an assist from Cinalli. Lipsher made a diving attempt at the save but couldn’t get her hand on the winning goal that came from the left side of the box.
“I thought Notre Dame started to seize the momentum as we spent a lot of energy into tying the game up,” said Church. “We tried to put some fresh legs in and maybe a little bit of inexperienced legs in there at that point. I give them [Notre Dame] credit for seizing the moment and finding the winner out there.”
Redmond added shots over the final 13 minutes by Redmond but couldn’t get the ball past the Notre Dame defense. The three goals by the Irish marked the first time all season the Blue Devils have allowed three goals in a match.
“I thought we made some adjustments and the girls got more aggressive in the second half,” said Church. “We were down a goal and took the attitude -- we have to press, step our line up a little bit, we have to step into ball and definitely win balls.”
Notre Dame finished the match with a 15-8 shot advantage as the two squads each took six shots in the second half. The Irish held a 7-2 corner kick lead in the match. Lipsher finished with five saves over her final 90 minutes of college soccer.
Duke concluded its incredible run through the NCAA College Cup but return all but two seniors in 2008.
Duke was making its third appearance in the NCAA College Cup quarterfinals -- 1992, 1994 and 2007.
Redmond finished the season with 12 assists, which ranks as the second-most in Duke single season history. Redmond registered four game-winning goals and notched eight assists on goals that tied or were the game-winning goals of matches this season.
Senior goalkeeper Allison Lipsher finished her career with 33 shutouts, which was one shy of the Duke career mark held by Melissa Carr, who played from 1992-95. Lipsher was two shutouts shy of matching the ACC career mark held by Aly Winget (35) of UNC.
With the Blue Devils reaching the 10-win plateau this season, Duke has posted double-figure wins 15th time in school history over the 20 years in women’s soccer. Head Coach Robbie Church has guided Duke to 10-win seasons in four out of the last five years.