DURHAM, N.C. – The 12th-ranked Blue Devil women’s soccer team closed the 2013 Duke Nike Classic on Sunday with a 2-1 loss to second-ranked UCLA at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C.
The Blue Devils dropped to 3-2-1 on the season prior to heading into ACC action on Thursday against Miami, while UCLA moved to 5-1. North Carolina claimed the Duke Nike Classic title with victories over UCLA (1-0) and West Virginia (4-2).
Earning classic MVP honors was North Carolina’s Crystal Dunn (Offensive) and Kelly McFarlane (UNC), while Dunn, McFarlane, Caitlin Ball (UNC), Kealia Ohai (UNC), Christina Gibbons (Duke), Kate Schwindel (West Virginia), Rosie White (UCLA), Megan Oyster (UCLA), Malinda Allen (Duke), Frances Silva (West Virginia) and Katelyn Rowland (UCLA) were selected to the All-Tournament team.
“I am disappointed with how we started the game,” said Duke head coach Robbie Church. “I am really, really proud of our young players we put in and they saved us – they gave us a chance to win in the second half. They brought a lot of energy. We obviously had a double-overtime game on Friday night and it wasn’t easy to come out and play a team in this heat with it to. We didn’t go after it as a group and a unit. We went after it individually. They just shredded us apart early in the match.”
For the first time this year, it was a Duke opponent that came out on the attack and the pressure resulted in the earliest goal the Blue Devils have allowed this season as Taylor Smith found Rosie White for a one-v-one breakaway and beat Duke redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Ali Kershner at the 7:08 mark.
Duke’s best chance in the first half came at the 28th minute as freshman midfielder Toni Payne took the ball away from a UCLA player and beat two defenders to get an open look at the goal but Bruin goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland made a diving stop to her left to keep the Blue Devils off the board.
The Blue Devils showed signs of being tired from the double-overtime match on Friday and Church decided to rest many of his starters at the end of the first half.
UCLA outshot Duke, 9-3, in the first half with redshirt senior Kim DeCesare leading the way with two.
“I am very proud of them [Duke] to regroup,” said Church. “I thought we dominated the second half. When we get a build-up we are not finishing and being rewarded for some of our nice plays. I think there were some really positive spots over the weekend even though we were 0-1-1. Some of the play of the young players was really, really positive.”
Duke came out in the second half with better energy and created a great opportunity in the 61st minute as Payne found DeCesare in the box and she blasted a shot that was saved by Rowland with another diving stop to her left.
UCLA added a second goal in the 78th minute as Kershner tried to go after a ball outside the box, but UCLA’s Darian Jenkins beat her to the punch and rolled in a long shot into the left side of the wide open goal to go ahead 2-0.
Duke’s Katie Trees was taken down in the box with four seconds remaining to give the Blue Devils a penalty kick chance for the second straight match. A senior product of Durham, N.C., Mollie Pathman stepped up and connected on her second consecutive opportunity. The goal for Pathman was the 17th of her career and second this year.
The Blue Devils just couldn’t get anything in-between the posts, which continues to be a theme this season as Duke owns only five goals in six matches, including two penalty kicks. Th e Blue Devils outshot UCLA, 11-7, in the second half, but the Bruins held a 16-14 lead in the match. DeCesare led Duke with five attempts.
Kershner totaled four saves in the net for Duke over 90 minutes, while Rowland added four saves for the Bruins.
“We are a very good team and we are going to be a very good team,” said Church. “I know the character of the girls in that room. We just have to regroup. It is the end of the first segment – the non-conference portion. Now we have to get moving to the most important part, the ACC play.”
Duke will next kick off ACC action on Thursday, Sept. 12 as the Blue Devils host Miami at 7:00 p.m. The match will be aired live on NSCAA.com.
Notes: • For the second straight match, Duke started four freshmen – Christina Gibbons, Lizzy Raben, Malinda Allen and Toni Payne. • Duke has scored only five goals, but allowed only four. • The Blue Devils attempted 39 shots over the weekend, but was held to only two penalty kick goals by Pathman.