CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.- The 15th-ranked and third-seeded Duke women's soccer team registered three first half goals on its way to cruising past the 24th-ranked Miami University of Ohio, 4-1, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday evening at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Va.
The Blue Devils advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the third straight year and the eighth time in school history.
"The last couple of games, we have really started off well to give us a nice little cushion," said Duke head coach Robbie Church. "I was very, very proud of the starters and the job the girls did tonight. It was a nice win for us. We are really looking forward to playing on Sunday."
Duke jumped out from the beginning on the attack as redshirt junior Kim DeCesare tallied two great chances over the first six minutes. A product of Massapequa Park, N.Y., DeCesare had a one-v-one opportunity with Miami (Ohio) goalkeeper Allison Norenberg in the third minute, but the Duke forward wasn't able to flick the ball over Norenberg. A few minutes later, DeCesare had another chance but her attempt was saved off the line by a RedHawk defender.
"We came out very strong and that really helped," commented DeCesare. "Miami is a very good team and with us coming out strong at the beginning we really shocked them. We got on top early and scored when we were playing well."
DeCesare would not be stopped as the All-ACC second team selection then registered two goals in less than a three minute span to put the Blue Devils ahead 2-0. At the 9:52 mark, senior midfielder Nicole Lipp sent a free kick from 35 yards out into the box where DeCesare headed in her fifth header goal of the year.
"We came out really strong in the first half and were able to put away a couple of really good goals early," said Lipp. "We were all just really excited and enthusiastic for the game to start and I think it showed [on the field]."
Lipp, who is out of Lake Forest, Ill., added her fifth career assist in NCAA Tournament action which tied the Duke career NCAA mark along with junior Mollie Pathman.
"It was obviously the key to the game," commented Church about DeCesare's two early goals. "Anytime you can go up, especially to get the second one - the first one is going to put them on their heels and the second one is going to knock them back a little bit. Kim shows how she can score goals - she scores goals with her head, she scores goals with her feet. It was great to see her get those goals."
DeCesare added her second goal in the 13th minute as Laura Weinberg fed freshman Cassie Pecht, who found a streaking DeCesare in the box and she hit the top right corner. The two-goal performance marks the fourth multi-goal game of the season, which tied a Blue Devil school record.
Duke kept attacking the Miami (Ohio) defense and added a third goal at the 26:54 mark as Weinberg crossed the ball to junior midfielder Gilda Doria, who took one touch and buried her sixth goal of the season from 15 yards out with her left foot. A product of West Palm Beach, Fla., Doria snapped a 13-match scoreless streak after scoring five goals in her first seven matches.
Weinberg added two goals in the first half as Duke outshot the RedHawks, 10-1. DeCesare led the Blue Devils with four first half shots, while Weinberg added two. Of the Blue Devils' first eight shots, all eight were on goal.
"I thought the first half we played great against a quality opponent," said Church.
Miami came out in the second half and featured its best scoring chance of the match in the first three minutes, but Kayla Zakrzewski's attempt went just wide of the right post.
The Blue Devils came right back and tacked on their fourth goal of the match as Doria fed Weinberg at the top right of the box. Weinberg, who is from Boca Raton, Fla., drove in the box and fired a rocket into top left of the net for her 16th goal of the season. With the goal, Weinberg moved her season point total to 42, which is a new Duke record. She passed Kelly Walbert and Casey McCluskey, who had 40 points in 1994 and 2004, respectively. Weinberg also snapped a five-match scoreless streak.
With 29:44 left in the match, Miami (Ohio) was able to add in a goal as Zakrzewski sent a long cross in from the left side of the field and Haley Walter one-timed a shot into the left corner past Duke goalkeeper Tara Campbell.
Duke concluded the match with a 14-5 shot advantage, led by Weinberg and DeCesare with four attempts each. The Blue Devils now own a NCAA-best 10 goals scored in the first two rounds of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Campbell, who is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, concluded the match with zero saves in 90 minutes of action. Norenberg added six saves in the net for Miami (Ohio).
Duke will next play the winner of the Virginia/Rutgers match on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 4:00 p.m., in Charlottesville, Va.
With her goal on the night, Laura Weinberg now owns 34 for her career, which ranks tied for fourth all-time on the Duke charts. Her 16 goals ranks tied for second on Duke's single-season list.
Freshman Cassie Pecht added her team-best 14th assist on the night.
Gilda Doria netted her 20th career assist, which ranks tied for seventh on Duke's career chart.
With her four points on the night, Kim DeCesare ranks tied for fifth on Duke's single-season point's chart with 34. Her 14 goals ranks tied for sixth on the single-season list as well.
Kim DeCesare added her fourth game-winning goal on the night.
Duke's 62 goals on the season ranks third on the Blue Devil single-season list. Its 196 points on the year is only seven points shy of a school record.
Duke's 71 assists on the year is only two away from the Duke single-season mark. • The Blue Devils improved to 13-0 this season when scoring three or more goals.