DURHAM, N.C.-- With preseason training and the exhibition schedule completed, the second-ranked Duke women’s soccer team is set to kick off the 2012 regular season on Friday, Aug. 17 at 7:00 pm at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
William & Mary is coming off a 17-3-3 record last season in which it won the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) regular season and tournament titles. The Tribe fell in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament to North Carolina. William & Mary returns nine starters and 22 letterwinners from a year ago, including leading scorer Mallory Schaffer who netted 17 goals.
The Blue Devils previously defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks in an exhibition match on Aug. 9 by a score of 2-0 in Columbia, S.C. In the contest, redshirt junior Kim DeCesare and sophomore Katie Trees scored goals for Duke.
The Blue Devils own a 5-5-1 all-time record against the Tribe. The two schools previously met in a 2008 NCAA Tournament second round match-up that saw Duke defeat William & Mary, 1-0. Last season, the two teams played in an exhibition match, which resulted in a 2-2 draw in Koskinen Stadium.
Head Coach Robbie Church and the Blue Devils were picked No. 2 in the NSCAA poll, the highest preseason listing in school history. The previous highest preseason ranking was No. 3 in 1993. Duke was also tabbed as the favorite to win the ACC for the first time in school history.
Junior standouts Natasha Anasi and Kaitlyn Kerr were selected to the 11-member All-America team by All White Kit this past week.
Offensively, the Blue Devils return 89 percent of their scoring and the top-five goal scorers from last year’s team including, Kelly Cobb (11 goals), 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.
On the defensive end, goalkeeper Tara Campbell returns for her senior season. She owns 27 career shutouts, seven shy of Melissa Carr’s school record of 34. The Blue Devils also welcome back the entire defensive back line with Erin Koballa, Maddy Haller, Anasi and Libby Jandl, which helped lead Duke to a school-record 16 shutouts in 2011. Kerr, Gilda Doria and Nicole Lipp will anchor the midfield.
The Blue Devils are looking to return to the NCAA Women’s College Cup, where they lost to Stanford last season in the championship match by a score of 1-0. Duke has reached the Sweet 16 in four of the past five seasons. It returns 22 letterwinners and all 11 starters from last season’s 22-4-1 squad.
The Blue Devils will open their home schedule at Koskinen Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 19 at 6:00 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.