DURHAM, N.C. – Coming off a key road win at 11th-ranked West Virginia Friday, the 21st-ranked Duke women’s soccer team kept its momentum going forward with a 3-1 win over previously unbeaten UAB (2-1) Sunday evening at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C.
The UAB match marked the 2014 home opener for the Blue Devils as Duke (2-2) had played its first three contests on the road. The Blue Devils registered a season-high 31 shots and season-high three first half goals.
“The kids played really hard,” said Duke head coach Robbie Church. “It was a tough weekend. It was a great, great win up at West Virginia. That game ran late, we got on the bus and arrived back at 5:30 in the morning on Saturday. I thought we came out and played great. Offensively and defensively we took them out of their rhythm. We attacked with numbers and had some really nice goals.”
Duke senior Kelly Cobb got things going for the Blue Devils in the seventh minute as sophomore Christina Gibbons sent a cross from the right side of the pitch to Cobb. A native of Chugiak, Alaska, Cobb chipped the ball over the outstretched arms of UAB keeper Angelica Jimenez into the right corner of the net for her first goal of the season and 21st of her career.
With the Blue Devils leading 1-0, junior Kara Wilson sent a long feed down the right to freshman Imani Dorsey. Dorsey, a product of Elkridge, Md., sent a perfect pass across the box to sophomore Toni Payne, who tapped in an easy goal to put Duke ahead, 2-0, just 11 minutes into the contest.
As Duke kept firing shots at the UAB goal, the Blue Devils were able to go ahead 3-0 at the 27:14 mark as Payne connected with Dorsey for her second collegiate goal.
At the end of the first half, Duke held a 19-1 shot advantage and led 3-0.
“I thought we let off the gas some in the second half,” said Church. “I don’t think it was on purpose but I think their bodies just wore down and we let up. We still have to keep working on it as we are going to have Friday and Sunday matches along with Thursday/Saturday in ACC all year long.”
The Blue Devils stayed on the attack in the second stanza, but were not able to put the ball in the back of the net. In the 55th minute, UAB’s Kimberly Fincher found Rachel Green for her first goal of the season to cut the Duke lead to 3-1.
Duke had its chances over the final 30 minutes as Dorsey hit the post on a shot, while Cobb and sophomore Rebecca Quinn each had excellent chances but went high. After being injured most of last season, Quinn played her first collegiate home match Sunday at Koskinen Stadium.
Church was able to play 20 players on a warm and muggy night in Durham. The Blue Devils held a 31-6 advantage in shots as 13 different Duke student-athletes attempted at least one shot. Dorsey led the way with a career-high five attempts, while Cobb and Payne each had four.
Redshirt junior Ali Kershner netted the win in goal for Duke as she played the first half allowing only one shot. Redshirt senior Meghan Thomas and freshman EJ Proctor split time in the second half.
“We definitely got better over the weekend than we were last week and that is all we want right now,” commented Church.
The Blue Devils will next host the Duke Nike Classic Friday, Sept. 5 and Sunday, Sept. 7 with North Carolina, Penn State and Arkansas seeing action. The Tar Heels and Nittany Lions will kick off the classic Friday at 5:00 p.m., followed by Arkansas versus Duke at 7:30 p.m. The matches on Sunday will start at 12 p.m.