DURHAM, N.C. - For the 19th time in school history and the 10th straight year, the Duke women's soccer team received an at-large invitation to play in the NCAA Tournament on Monday as the Blue Devils were seeded No. 3 and will host Loyola Maryland on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 4:00 p.m., at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C.
"We are very proud to be selected to the field," commented Duke head coach Robbie Church. "It is a great honor. There are 322 teams out there that start this journey and to be one of the 64 teams playing right now is a real testament to the young ladies and what they have done."
Loyola Maryland posted a 12-5-4 overall record this season and is coming off winning the program's 10th Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship on Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over Marist College. Led by 1996 Duke alumnae Katherine Remy Vettori, the Greyhounds will be making their eighth NCAA Tournament appearance.
"Katherine was one of the top players to ever play here at Duke University," said Church. "She has a couple of sisters who played here, so it will be great to have her back. She is a wonderful young lady and has done a great job with that program. She has coached youth soccer for a number of years before becoming head coach there and it will be fun to have her back on campus."
The title secured the third-seeded Greyhounds (12-5-4 overall) a spot in the NCAA Women's College Cup for the eighth time. Loyola Maryland has been led by Nicole Schiro with 15 goals on the year to go along with 34 points.
"We have had some really good trainings but it really great to be able to put a name to the team we are going to play," commented Church. "We have a date we are going to play, so now for the rest of our training we can really work on sharpening ourselves up and look at Loyola-Maryland and see how to attack, how we are going to defend the team. It is a real honor to be playing and we are excited to get going."
Saturday's winner of the Duke/Loyola Maryland match will advance to the second round to face the winner of the Miami (Ohio) (19-2-1) versus Tennessee (14-4-3) contest.
In Duke's bracket, Penn State was the No. 1 seed, while Virginia is seeded No. 2 and Portland was the No. 4 seed. The other No. 1 seeds in the 2012 bracket are Florida State, Stanford and BYU. For the second straight season, the ACC received nine teams into the NCAA Tournament, which matches a league record.
Duke has recorded a 12-5-2 overall record and 5-3-2 in the very challenging ACC on the season under the direction of Church, who was the 2011 National Coach of the Year.
On the season, Duke has been one of the top scoring teams in the nation averaging 2.74 goals a match, which ranks fifth nationally. Junior Laura Weinberg (15 goals), redshirt junior Kim DeCesare (12 goals) have led the way for the Blue Devils. The tandem has matched the Duke single-season record for most goals by a scoring duo.
"I couldn't be more excited," said senior Nicole Lipp. "We finally have a time and place for our first round. I think everyone is really looking forward to starting our run to the national championship. We are really focused on the first round against Loyola-Maryland. We don't know much about them, but I am sure they are going to be a tough opponent so we are looking forward to that."
The ACC released its All-ACC women's soccer teams recently with four Blue Devils earning honors. Weinberg was named to the first team, while DeCesare, Natasha Anasi and Cassie Pecht were selected to the second team. Pecht, who is a native of Mechanicsburg, Pa., became just the third Blue Devil to be named ACC Freshman of the Year. The 5-3 forward/midfielder owns 11 assists on the season, which ranks tied for first in the ACC and fifth nationally.
"It's the last year, so no regrets," commented senior defender Erin Koballa. "I can't leave anything off the field. We just really need to give it everything we have and make this last run worth it."
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Duke Ticket Office at (919) 681-2583, (877) 375-3853 or by going online at www.GoDuke.com.