DURHAM, N.C.- The second-ranked Duke women’s soccer team is gearing up for its first game action of the 2012 season, as the Blue Devils are set to travel to Columbia, S.C., for an exhibition match against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Thursday, Aug. 9 at 7:00 p.m.
South Carolina is coming off a 16-7 season in which it won the Southeastern Conference (SEC) regular season and tournament titles. The Gamecocks lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to the eventual national champion Stanford. The Gamecocks return 16 letterwinners and six starters from last season’s squad, including starting goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo.
Fans can follow the action live on www.GamecocksOnline.com live audio and live stats. There will be free admission for the match.
The Blue Devils own a 2-1 record against the Gamecocks in school history, including a 2-0 victory on Sunday, Aug. 21 of last season at Koskinen Stadium. In the contest, Nicole Lipp and Kaitlyn Kerr tallied goals, while Tara Campbell posted a shutout in goal.
In the preseason NSCAA rankings, the Blue Devils were tabbed No. 2 nationally, which is the highest preseason listing in school history. The previous high was No. 3 in 1993. South Carolina is ranked No. 24 in the ledger.
Duke head coach Robbie Church is looking to guide his squad back to the NCAA Women’s College Cup, where the Blue Devils lost to Stanford in the championship match last season by a score of 1-0. The Blue Devils have reached the Sweet 16 in four of the past five seasons. They return 22 letterwinners and all 11 starters from last season’s 22-4-1 squad.
On defense, the Blue Devils will feature a veteran group with a combined 125 starts. The defensive unit will be led by Campbell, who returns with 27 career shutouts in net. The senior from Cincinnati, Ohio needs seven shutouts to match Melissa Carr’s mark for the most shutouts in school history with 34.
Duke will also feature a veteran group of returning starters on offense with a combined 150 starts and 84 goals scored. The top-five leading goal scorers from last season’s squad will return including, Kelly Cobb (11 goals), Kaitlyn Kerr (11), Laura Weinberg (8), Mollie Pathman (6) and Kim DeCesare (5). The Blue Devils will be without Cobb and Pathman for the first nine matches of the 2012 campaign as they will be traveling to Japan with the U.S. U-20 World Cup team. The duo will return in time for ACC action to kick off at Florida State on Sept. 13.
The 2012 campaign will officially kick off on Friday, Aug. 17 at 7:00 pm at William & Mary. The Blue Devils will open its home schedule at Koskinen Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 19 at 6 pm against Elon. Duke is slated to play nine home contests this season, all 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.