DURHAM, N.C. – The ACC released its preseason women’s soccer poll on Monday with Duke being tabbed fourth overall by a vote of the league’s head coaches.
North Carolina received 13 first place votes and a total of 194 points to earn the top slot, while Florida State (171 points, 1 first place vote), Virginia (161), Duke (153), Notre Dame (143), Wake Forest (140), Maryland (110), Boston College (102), Virginia Tech (85), Clemson (56), Miami (56), Syracuse (45), N.C. State (36) and Pittsburgh (18) rounded out the preseason ledger.
Head coach Robbie Church and the Blue Devils return five starters and 22 letterwinners off the NCAA Elite Eight squad from a year ago that registered a 15-6-2 overall record. Duke welcomes back 95 percent of its scoring, including 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 Laura Weinberg (16 goals), Kim DeCesare (16 goals), Kaitlyn Kerr (eight goals) and Cassie Pecht (six goals). The Blue Devils are coming off posting 65 goals and a school-record 207 points in 2012.
The Blue Devils will be led by three captains in 2013 -- senior Gilda Doria, DeCesare and Kerr – along with four other seniors – Natasha Anasi, Avery Rape, Weinberg and Mollie Pathman. Returning starters for the Blue Devils in 2013 include Anasi, DeCesare, Kerr, Pathman and Weinberg.
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.
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.
ACC Preseason Coaches Poll 1. North Carolina (194, 13 First Place Votes) 2. Florida State (171, 1 First Place Vote) 3. Virginia (161) 4. Duke (153) 5. Notre Dame (143) 6. Wake Forest (140) 7. Maryland (110) 8. Boston College (102) 9. Virginia Tech (85) T10. Clemson (56) T10. Miami (56) 12. Syracuse (45) 13. NC State (36) 14. Pittsburgh (18)