DURHAM, N.C. – The road to Orlando and the 2017 College Cup will run through Durham, as the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils received a No. 1 seed for the 2017 NCAA Tournament and will host UNCG on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET, at Koskinen Stadium.
Duke received its second No. 1 seed in school history, with the first coming in 2011. This will be the 23rd time in program history that the Blue Devils will head to the big dance and the 14th time in the last 15 seasons.
“It’s definitely really cool and nice to know that if we keep advancing we’ll get to stay at home,” said senior EJ Proctor on receiving a No. 1 seed. “It’s fun, especially having a lot of our friends that can come to games and just the area that can come and support us. Just great to be home for a little bit and hopefully make it to Orlando.”
ACC Coach of the Year Robbie Church and the Blue Devils have put together one of the greatest seasons in school history, finishing with a 19-2-0 overall record, collecting the third ACC regular season title with a perfect 10-0-0 mark and assembling a program best 19-match winning streak along the way. Duke became the first school since Virginia in 2013 to finish the conference slate unblemished. Duke wrapped up ACC Tournament play on Sunday, advancing to its first ACC Tournament finals match since 2000 before falling in a tight 1-0 battle to North Carolina.
“It’s exciting and I’m very excited for the girls because this is a reward for all their hard work,” Church said. “To be able to get a No. 1 seed when there’s 300 and something teams out there playing is a great honor. We’re excited and we’ve been looking forward to this journey in the NCAA Tournament for a long time and now it’s here.”
UNCG will be making its eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament after defeating Western Carolina, 1-0, on Sunday in the Southern Conference Tournament Championship. The Spartans have posted a 11-7-3 overall record under the direction of head coach Michael Coll.
The winner of Saturday’s matchup will move on to the second round to face the winner of Missouri State (10-9-1) and Oklahoma State (16-3-2). Texas A&M (17-2-1) is the No. 2 seed in Duke’s bracket, with Southern California (14-3-1) and Texas (13-3-2) rounding out the top four.
“It’s a tough draw with Greensboro,” Church said. “They have a really good coaching staff. I know them well and have a ton of respect for them. I know they’ll cook up something that’s difficult for us.
“Our focus is solely on the Greensboro game right now. We’re going to get some recovery for the girls and get a little bit sharper on the training field. That’s a big key this time of year, that you’re still hungry. Our girls are motivated and they want to win a national championship. This is the road to the national championship, but you’ve got to win that first game to move on.”
The Southeastern Conference led all conferences with nine teams in the tournament. The ACC followed with eight teams, the Pac-12 with six teams and the Big Ten Conference and Big 12 Conference will each have five representatives in this year's tournament.
Duke will be led by its school record and league-high nine All-ACC selections, including Offensive Player of the Year Imani Dorsey, Defensive Player of the Year Schuyler DeBree and Midfielder of the Year Rebecca Quinn. EJ Proctor, Kayla McCoy also reeled in All-ACC First Team honors along with Dorsey, DeBree and Quinn. Ella Stevens and Taylor Racioppi were named All-ACC Second Team, while Ashton Miller (Third Team) and Taylor Mitchell (Freshman) rounded out the list.
The Blue Devils have been dominant across the board this season, leading the conference and standing top 15 nationally in total goals (45), goals against average (.472) and shutout percentage (.619). They are also tops in the conference in save percentage with an .831 clip.
Leading the offensive charge has been a collection of 10 goal scorers, with McCoy (11 goals, six assists, 28 points) and Dorsey (10 goals, seven assists, 27 points) headlining the Blue Devil attack. On the flip side, Proctor and her back line of Chelsea Burns, Morgan Reid, DeBree and Mitchell have been the catalysts for one of the nation’s top defenses. As a team, Duke has posted 13 shutouts, three short of tying the school record. Proctor has accounted for 10 solo clean sheets, which is third in the Duke record books and good for 12th in the nation. Her .441 goals against average is tops in the ACC and ninth nationally.
The Blue Devils have also enjoyed tremendous success on their home field, as they have posted a perfect 11-0-0 record at Koskinen. That mark currently stands second in school history for single-season home victories, three short of tying the record of 14 set in 2011.
“Last year was the longest that we’ve ever been at home for the NCAA Tournament since I’ve been here,” Proctor said. “It’s just easy for everyone to come and when everyone’s family is around. Any chance to play on Koskinen, especially as a senior, is something we don’t take for granted.”
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