Robbie Church, who enters his 13th year at Duke.DURHAM, N.C. – The 2013 Duke women’s soccer campaign is here and the Blue Devils are set to kick off practice on Wednesday morning, under the direction of head coach
The Blue Devils return five starters and a total of 22 letterwinners, including 95 percent of their scoring from a year ago. Duke is coming off advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth time out of the last six years and notching a 15-6-2 overall mark.
Duke will feature five days of practice before traveling to the Mountains, for team bonding and practice for four days.
The Blue Devils will be led by three captains in 2013 -- senior Gilda Doria, redshirt senior Kim DeCesare and senior Kaitlyn Kerr – along with four other seniors – Natasha Anasi, Avery Rape, Laura Weinberg and Mollie Pathman. Returning starters for the Blue Devils in 2013 include Anasi, DeCesare, Kerr, Pathman and Weinberg.
After suffering a torn ACL in the spring, Doria will miss the entire 2013 campaign. A product of West Palm Beach, Fla., Doria has competed in 73 contests over the last three years, while totaling seven goals, 20 assists and 34 points. Duke will also be without the services of reigning National Freshman of the Year Cassie Pecht early in the season due to a knee injury.
On the offensive end, the Blue Devils return nine student-athletes who scored one or more goals last year, including the top four scorers from a year ago. Duke’s top returning scorer’s in 2013 include Weinberg (16 goals), DeCesare (16 goals), Kerr (eight goals) and Pecht (six goals). The Blue Devils are coming off posting 65 goals and a school-record 207 points in 2012.
After totaling 11 goals and nine assists as a freshman in 2011, junior Kelly Cobb is expected to return to the starting lineup in 2013. Cobb, who is a product of Chugiak, Alaska, missed the first nine games of last season as she was representing the U.S., at the U-20 World Cup and then was bothered by injuries after returning. She was limited to only 10 matches and scored two goals in 2012.
Duke’s defensive unit will have a different look in 2013, with the losses of four-year starters Tara Campbell in goal along with defenders Erin Koballa, Maddy Haller and Libby Jandl. The Blue Devils return Anasi, who is a two-time NSCAA All-America to anchor the backfield. Others expected to see action on defense include Rape, redshirt junior Alex Straton, Tabria Williford, Anastasia Hunt and Sammie Thomas, along with a group of solid incoming freshmen.
In goal for the Blue Devils will be the tandem of redshirt junior Meghan Thomas and redshirt sophomore Ali Kershner. Thomas, who is a product of Castle Rock, Colo., saw action in four games last year allowing zero goals in 87 minutes. A native of Palo Alto, Calif., Kershner played in five games, allowing one goal in 120 minutes.
Other returning letterwinners for the Blue Devils include Audrey Gibson, Katie Trees, Kelly McCann, Katy Colas, Kara Wilson, Danielle Duhl and Courtney McDaniel.
Duke welcomes a solid recruiting class in 2013 that includes Rebecca Quinn, Lizzy Raben, Toni Payne, Krysia Sikora, Malinda Allen, Catherine Blair and Christina Gibbons.
Duke will host Tennessee on Friday, Aug. 16 at 5:00 p.m., in an exhibition contest before hitting the road to open the 2013 regular season. The Blue Devils will face Texas A&M in College Station, Texas on Aug. 23 and then will take on South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., on Aug. 25. Duke features eight home contests this season with all home games being played at Koskinen Stadium.
For tickets to all of Duke’s home women’s soccer contests, contact the Duke Athletic Ticket Office at (919) 681-BLUE (2583) or call (877) 375-3853.