Blue Devils Set to Host Duke Nike Classic This Weekend... The 22nd-ranked Blue Devil women’s soccer program will host the challenging Duke Nike Classic Friday, Sept. 5 and Sunday, Sept. 7, featuring four nationally ranked opponents -- seventh-ranked Penn State, 14th-ranked North Carolina, 18th-ranked Arkansas and 22nd-ranked Duke. Action will kick off Friday at 5:00 p.m., with Penn State versus North Carolina, while Arkansas will face Duke at 7:30 p.m. The action will conclude Sunday with the Razorbacks against the Tar Heels at 12 p.m., followed by the Nittany Lions versus the Blue Devils at 2:30 p.m. All four matches will be aired live on ESPN3 and played at Koskinen Stadium. Calling the games on Friday for ESPN3 will be Ryan Craig (PXP) and Chris Edwards (Color). Craig along with John Roth (Color) will announce the Sunday matches.
In the Rankings... Duke is currently ranked No. 19 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com and No. 22 in the Soccer America polls. Penn State is listed No. 7 in the NSCAA and Soccer America and No. 8 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com ledgers. North Carolina is ranked 14th in both the NSCAA and Soccer America polls, while being No. 12 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com poll. Arkansas is ranked 18th in the NSCAA and 20th in the TopDrawerSoccer.com ledgers.
A Look at Arkansas... Arkansas enters the Duke Classic with a 3-0-1 record with wins against Utah State (3-1), Oklahoma State (2-1) and Stephen F. Austin. The Razorbacks tied Texas, 0-0, on the road. So far through four matches, Ashleigh Ellenwood, Alexandra Fischer and Claire Kelley lead Arkansas with two goals each. Ellenwood and Tyler Allen have a team-high three assists. The Razorbacks returned eight starters off their team that notched a 15-8-1 overall record last season.
The Series with Arkansas... Duke and Arkansas will meet for the second straight season and the third time in school history. Last year, the Blue Devils defeated the Razorbacks in the NCAA Sweet 16 in Durham, N.C. Duke and Arkansas tied, 2-2, before the Blue Devils advanced in penalty kicks, 5-3. In the previous meeting on Sept. 17, 1994, Duke knocked off Arkansas, 3-1.
A Look at Penn State... Penn State enters the Duke Nike Classic with a 3-0 record with wins over West Virginia (3-1), Syracuse (2-0) and UConn (3-1). Mallory Weber (3 goals) and Megan Schafer (2 goals) have led the Nittany Lions early in the season. The Nittany Lions return eight starters off their team that totaled a 15-7-1 record in 2013.
The Series with Penn State... Duke and Penn State have met three times in school history, with the Nittany Lions leading the series, 2-1. PSU has won two straight against Duke with the last meeting coming Nov. 23, 2012 in the NCAA Elite Eight. The Nittany Lions won, 1-0, on a penalty kick. The two previous meetings came Sept. 7, 2001 (PSU 5, Duke 1) and Sept. 10, 1999 (Duke 2, PSU 1). It will be the first time the two teams have played in Durham.
Duke Classic Recent History... Since the 2007 campaign, the Blue Devils have posted a 10-1-3 record and outscored their opponents by a 38-13 ledger.
Blue Devils at Home... Duke enters Friday’s match at home with a 24-4-6 record at Koskinen Stadium dating back to the 2011 season.
Payne Nets Honors... Coming off helping lead 21st-ranked Duke to a pair of victories over the weekend, Blue Devil sophomore midfielder Toni Payne was named ACC Player of the Week Tuesday. Duke netted a key road victory Aug. 29 at 11th-ranked West Virginia, followed by a home win Aug. 31 versus UAB. A product of Birmingham, Ala., Payne tallied a second half goal in a 2-0 road win over 13th-ranked West Virginia before adding a goal and an assist in the 3-1 win over previously unbeaten UAB. She closed the weekend with two goals and one assist for five points. Payne notched the game-winning goal against the Blazers and added an assist on Duke’s third first half tally Aug. 31 as the Blue Devils won their second straight match. It marked the first time in her career Payne has recorded back-to-back games with a goal. Through two weeks in the season, Payne is tied first in the ACC with 17 shots, while ranking fourth with a 4.25 shots per game average.
Wilson Steps into New Role... Junior Kara Wilson has moved to the center back position in 2014, after playing in the midfield her first two years with the Blue Devils. Wilson is the only Duke player to play in all 360 minutes over the first four matches and has played very well. For her efforts, she was named to the CS360 Primetime Performer List Sept. 2, after helping lead Duke to wins over West Virginia and UAB.
Dorsey, Payne Have Big Weekend... Freshman Imani Dorsey and sophomore Toni Payne each had a big weekend leading Duke to wins over West Virginia and UAB. The duo totaled a combined four goals and two assists in the two contests. Dorsey and Payne have scored four of the five goals for the Blue Devils. Against UAB, Dorsey and Payne connected together for a goal each.
Gibbons Moves to the Midfield... With the excellent play by rookie defenders Morgan Reid and Schuyler DeBree, head coach Robbie Church has been able to move sophomore Christina Gibbons to the midfield slot this season. She notched two assists in the wins last weekend. Gibbons, started all 24 matches a year ago and played a team-high 2,228 minutes, as a freshman at Duke.