DURHAM, N.C. – Goals from senior Kayla McCoy and freshmen Mackenzie Pluck and Marykate McGuire highlighted a successful Sunday for the No. 11 Duke Blue Devils (2-1-1), as they rolled past the Elon Phoenix (1-1-2) to the tune of 3-0 at Koskinen Stadium.
The win was the first for Duke since a 2-0 opening day victory against No. 23 Ohio State and comes after a scoreless draw at No. 15 Georgetown on Friday. Duke’s three scores are a season high and the most since posting four against Baylor on Nov. 24, 2017 in the NCAA Quarterfinals.
“I don’t think we were great in the first half. I thought we were pretty average for our standards, but played much better in the second half,” head coach Robbie Church said. “I felt like we picked up our intensity and focus. Our attacking had an aggressive mindset, which sometimes this year that’s been there and sometimes it hasn’t.
“We had some really nice goals and there was some nice combination play and the play coming through the midfield. I know our forwards have been frustrated early on this season so it was nice to see Kayla and Mackenzie get a goal and Marykate get her first-career goal.”
It was a scoreless affair for the first 33 minutes of play until McCoy broke the draw with her first score of the season. Taylor Mitchell would send a ball in from deep to McCoy, who put a move past the keeper and rolled the ball into the back of the net for the game’s first score. That goal moves McCoy’s career total to 27, which puts her one shy of tying Caitlin Connolly (1989-92), Carolyn Riggs (2002-05) and Kaitlyn Kerr (2010-13) for 10th on the Duke all-time list.
The second half would be relatively quiet on both sides until the 70th minute, when Pluck tallied her second goal of the year. McCoy and Ella Stevens worked to deliver the ball to Pluck, who fired one from the left side into the back of the net to make it 2-0 Duke.
Sunday’s final goal was also the first of McGuire's career, as the Portsmouth, R.I., native connected on the 12th attempt of her career. Stevens picked up her second assist of the night as McGuire took the junior’s pass on the left side of the 18' and slammed it home to give Duke a 3-0 lead it would take to the final horn.
With her two assists, Stevens now has 20 for her career. That has her one shy of 10th on the career assists list at Duke, held by Lauren Tippets (2003-06), Gilda Doria (2010-14) and Toni Payne (2013-16).
Brooke Heinsohn earned her second-straight shutout and third of the season, making three saves and improving her goals against average to 0.47 through four contests.
Duke held the advantage in the shot battle, 16-9, including a 7-3 tally in shots on goal. The Blue Devils earned eight corner kicks to Elon’s two. There were only nine fouls issued on the day, but two yellow cards were handed out to the Phoenix, both coming in the second half.
“Overall, we’re getting there,” Church said. “We’re still different and learning to play with each other. We just have to keep working at it. This is a very coachable group and they work very hard. We’re going to keep coaching them and they are going to keep getting better.”
Next up for the Blue Devils is the 2018 Duke Nike Classic, Aug. 30 – Sept. 2. Duke welcomes Marquette, Providence and North Carolina to Durham for the two-day event. The Blue Devils open with Marquette on Thursday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. ET and close against Providence Sunday, Sept. 2 at 2:30 p.m. Both matches will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra, which can be accessed through WatchESPN.com or through the ESPN app.
Fans can keep up with all things Duke women’s soccer by following the program on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching for “DukeWSoc”. Behind-the-scenes content of women’s soccer and all Duke athletic programs can be found on Snapchat by following “dukeathletics”.