The preseason seventh-ranked Duke women’s soccer team will open the 2013 campaign on Friday, Aug. 23 as the Blue Devils travel to College Station, Texas to face Texas A&M at 8:30 p.m. on Ellis Field. The contest will be aired on www.GoDuke.com with live video and fans can also follow the action via Twitter by following @Duke_WSOC.
Following Friday’s match at Texas A&M, the Blue Devils will hit the road to travel to Columbia, S.C., where Duke will face South Carolina on Sunday, Aug. 25 at 7:00 p.m.
Duke posted a 15-6-2 record last season under the direction of head coach Robbie Church, who enters his 13th season with the Blue Devils.
A Look at Texas A&M...
Texas A&M enters Friday’s season opener coming off a 2012 season in which the Aggies posted a 19-5-1 overall mark and 10-2-1 in the SEC West, good for first in the division. In the NCAA Tournament, Texas A&M advanced to the Sweet 16 before falling, 4-0, at Florida State.
The squad returns seven starters and 14 letterwinners under head coach G Guerrieri. Texas A&M returns its leading scorer Annie Kunz (13 goals, 1 assist) and starting goalkeeper Jordan Day (14 shutouts/79 saves).
The Series with Texas A&M...
Duke and Texas A&M will meet for the sixth time in school history and the second time in College Station, Texas. The Aggies lead the series, 3-2, and in the only meeting at Texas A&M, the Aggies won, 2-1, in the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
In the last meeting, Duke downed Texas A&M, 7-2, in the Duke Nike Classic in 2011. In the match, the Blue Devils scored five second half goals to get the victory. Kelly Cobb and Laura Weinberg each scored two goals, while Kaitlyn Kerr, Mollie Pathman and Molly Lester each added goals.
A Look at South Carolina...
South Carolina enters the season under the direction of head coach Shelley Smith, who is in her 13th season with the Gamecocks. Smith returns nine starters and 20 letterwinners off a squad that produced a 7-10-4 overall mark and 3-7-3 in the SEC.
The Gamecocks return leading scorer Danielle Au (4 goals, 3 assists, 11 points) and starting goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo (1.20 GAA, 3 shutouts).
The Series with South Carolina...
Duke and South Carolina will meet for the fourth time in school history with the Blue Devils leading the series, 2-0-1. It marks the first time the two squads will play in Columbia, S.C. Duke has outscored South Carolina, 8-2, in the three matches. In the last meeting, Duke downed the Gamecocks, 2-0, in Durham, N.C., with Nicole Lipp and Kaitlyn Kerr posting goals.
Opening on the Road...
Duke will face one of the toughest season-opening contests during head coach Robbie Church’s 13 years as a head coach.
The last time the Blue Devils opened the season on the road against a top 15 ranked opponent was in 2004 at 11th-ranked Tennessee. Duke lost, 4-3, in overtime after owning a 3-1 lead at halftime.
Duke will open on the road against a ranked opponent for the second straight year as the Blue Devils downed 20th-ranked William & Mary last season, 4-1.
• Duke will not play a home match until Sept. 6 in the Duke Nike Classic against West Virginia.
• The Blue Devils will feature tri-captains in 2013 with Kim DeCesare, Gilda Doria and Kaitlyn Kerr getting the nod from their teammates.
• Duke returns 95.4 percent of its scoring from the 2012 season, including 62 of 65 goals scored.
• Dating back to the 2011 campaign, nine of the 10 Blue Devil losses have been by one goal.
• Duke is coming off advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth time out of the last six years
• The Blue Devils welcome the 10th-ranked recruiting class in the nation.
Hey, I Know You...
Duke junior Katie Trees went to school with Texas A&M junior Allie Bailey as the duo went to school at Torrey Pines H.S., in San Diego, Calif.
Duke Takes Down Tennessee in Exhibition...
The Blue Devils collected a 2-0 victory on Friday, Aug. 16 against Tennessee in Durham, N.C., which marked Duke’s only exhibition contest of the preseason.
Duke netted a goal in the first five minutes by freshman Christina Gibbons off a corner kick with assists from Mollie Pathman and Kim DeCesare.
Rookie Krysia Sikora added a late goal for the Blue Devils as Duke held the Lady Vols to only three shots, while Duke had 12.
Weinberg Moving Up Career Charts...
Senior Laura Weinberg enters her final year with the Blue Devils ranking in the top five in points (5th, 86) and goals (T4th, 34), after posting a school-record 44 points a year ago.
Weinberg totaled a career-high 16 goals and 12 assists in 2012 and is only 31 points away from matching the Duke career points mark of 117 held by Kelly Walbert. She is 13 goals away from tying Walbert’s career goals mark of 47 as well.
With 18 assists over her career, Weinberg is tied for 11th on the Duke list.
Top Scoring Combinations...
The Blue Devil duo of Laura Weinberg and Kim DeCesare return for their final season, after combining to score 32 goals in 2012, which marked a new Duke single-season record for scoring combinations.
Duke’s Highest Scoring Duos
32 – Laura Weinberg (16) & Kim DeCesare (16) in 2012
27 – KayAnne Gummersall (15) & Elisabeth Redmond (12) in 2008
26 – Kelly Walbert (18) & Andi Melde (8) in 1994
25 – Casey McCluskey (16) & Carolyn Riggs (9) in 2004
22 - Kelly Cobb (11) & Kaitlyn Kerr (11) in 2011
22 – Sherrill Kester (14) & Kasey Truman (8) in 1999
In the Rankings...
Duke is No. 7 in the preseason NSCAA/Continental Tire ledger, while coming in at No. 8 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com and No. 8 in the Soccer America polls. Texas A&M is 12th in the NSCAA Coaches poll, 13th in the TopDrawerSoccer.com ledger.
Stellar Offensive Unit Returns...
The Blue Devils return five starters and a total of 22 letterwinners, including 95 percent of their scoring from a year ago. 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 scorers 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.
Anasi Nets Honors...
Duke senior defender Natasha Anasi has been selected one of 31 preseason candidates for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is the top individual award in college soccer. Anasi was a finalist for the award in 2011 and semifinalist in 2012.
Anasi has also been named one of the top two center backs in the nation by All White Kit as it released the top 11 players in the nation. She was also added to the All White Kit Defender of the Year candidate list and to the TopDrawerSoccer.com Best IX Second Team in the preseason.
Pecht, Doria Injured...
After suffering a torn ACL in the spring, senior Gilda 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 in the midfield, 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. Pecht, who is out of Mechanicsburg, Pa., totaled six goals and an NCAA-best 15 assists as a rookie. She started all 22 matches in 2012 and collected 27 points.
Blue Devils Moving Up Career Charts...
Kaitlyn Kerr, Kim DeCesare and Mollie Pathman all rank in the top 15 of the Blue Devil career charts as the 2013 season opens. Kerr is 10th on the career points list (63), 13th in goals (23) and tied 12th in assists (17). DeCesare is tied for ninth in goals (24).
Duke on Air...
All home women’s soccer contests will be aired live on the Blue Devil Network, except for the Miami (NSCAA TV), Virginia (ACCDN) and Pittsburgh (RSN/ESPN3) contests. Duke will also be on ESPN3 at Clemson and North Carolina.
The entire Duke Nike Classic will be aired live on the Blue Devil Network on Sept. 6 & 8.
Follow DWS on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook...
Make sure you follow Duke women’s soccer on Twitter (@Duke_WSOC). New for the 2013 season is the Blue Devil women’s soccer Instagram account (DUKEWSOC) where you can find photos and video. You can see behind-the-scenes pictures, video and info on the Blue Devils. Fans can also “like” Duke women’s soccer on Facebook as well.
Senior defender Natasha Anasi enters her final year with the Blue Devils with a 51-game consecutive starts streak. Over her career, Anasi has helped lead Duke to 32 shutouts on the defensive end. She is a two-time All-America and MAC Hermann Trophy watch list selection.
A Healthy Cobb Returns...
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, 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 was then bothered by injuries after returning to Durham. She was limited to only 10 matches and scored two goals in 2012.
New Look Defense...
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 Avery 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.
After missing the entire 2012 campaign, the Blue Devils welcome back Alex Straton (knee), Danielle Duhl (knee), Audrey Gibson (foot) and Courtney McDaniel (knee) to field in 2013.