DURHAM, N.C. – Led by two second half goals, the sixth-ranked Blue Devil women’s soccer team claimed the 2011 Duke Nike Classic title with a 2-0 blanking of UNC Greensboro on Sunday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C.
The Blue Devils netted goals by sophomore Kaitlyn Kerr and junior Erin Koballa on their way to improving to 7-1 on the season, while UNC Greensboro fell to 1-5. With her two goals and two assists on the weekend, Kerr was named the Duke Nike Classic MVP.
“Was it great, no it wasn’t great, but was a win -- we win the tournament,” said Duke Head Coach Robbie Church. “Anytime you play in a tournament with North Carolina and Texas A&M and you can win the tournament -- you have done a fantastic job with it to. We are very, very happy to do that. We are extremely happy to be 7-1. One more nonconference game and then we open up the ACC [play] this weekend. I am happy where we are and glad we figured it out in the second half.”
Other members of the Duke Nike Classic All-Tournament team include -- Crystal Dunn (UNC), Chelsea Jones (Texas A&M), Kelly Cobb (Duke), Amber Brooks (UNC), Kelsey Kearney (UNCG), Natasha Anasi (Duke), Merritt Mathias (Texas A&M), Stephanie Partenheimer (UNCG), Meghan Streight (Texas A&M), Courtney Jones (UNC) and Koballa (Duke).
Duke dominated the action from the start with six shots over the first 17 minutes of action but UNC Greensboro totaled a key shot at the 17:31 mark. After a Blue Devil defender was tripped up, Spartan forward Kristin Player found herself in a one-v-one opportunity with Duke goalkeeper Tara Campbell. Like she has done all year, Campbell made an excellent save on a shot as she dove to her left to stop the attempt.
“If we would have gone down 1-0 nothing, wow,” said Church. “Instead of seeing eight players behind the ball we would have seen 11 players behind the ball. It is so hard to sit back there and get no action and then all of a sudden you have to make a big time save. I think she is outstanding and has been outstanding all year. She has taken her game to a different level than to what it has been.”
Sophomore Mollie Pathman fired a header shot in the 20th minute that hit the left post, while Pathman also hit the right post on a corner kick in the first half.
Another one of Duke’s best scoring chances came in the 35th minute as Kerr headed an attempt that went off the left post. At the end of the first half, the score remained 0-0 with Duke outshooting the Spartans, 11-1.
“We had a lot of chances,” said Kerr about the first half. “We always play together as a team and that has been our goal. I think we got a little individual as I was saying on the field. We definitely came back as a team -- that is what we are known for -- playing like a team and playing the feet. I think we just needed to finish our chances. At halftime we conjoined together as a team again and realized what we needed to do.”
Duke fired three shots to open the second stanza before Kerr sent an attempt from outside the box on the right side that was saved by Kearney. Less than two minutes later, Kerr sent another attempt from about the same spot on the field and hit the top left corner for her third goal of the season in the 67th minute.
Kerr netted the goal off passes from junior Libby Jandl and sophomore Alex Straton. A native of Bensalem, Pa., Kerr now owns three goals and two assists for eight points on the season. It marked her first game-winning goal of her career.
“It was all my teammates,” commented Kerr. “They have been working hard -- our defenders have been playing amazing. Sometimes they don’t get the credit I think they deserve. From our goalkeeper all the way up to our forwards, they just really played awesome today.”
Duke continued to put the pressure on the Spartans and finally received its second goal of the match to put the contest away in the 85th minute. Koballa, who is from Wrightsville Beach, N.C., made an excellent step to the ball and fed Cobb, who then gave it right back to a streaking Koballa. The 5-7 junior finished her first career goal into the right side of the netting.
“Both goals were class goals,” said Church. “It took that to break them down and to beat them. We were not going to get anything cheap. They [UNCG] are well-coached and their defensive scheme is outstanding.”
Campbell and the Duke defense netted its fifth shutout of the season. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Campbell posted one save in the match and now owns 19 career shutouts. In goal for the Spartans, Kearney finished with 10 saves.
For the match, Duke outshot UNC Greensboro, 24-1, to improve to 4-0 on the season at home. Kerr finished the match with seven shots, while Cobb and Pathman each added four.
In the first match of the day, Texas A&M received a goal in the first minute of overtime to take down No. 1 North Carolina, 4-3. Texas A&M and North Carolina each finished the classic with one win and one loss, while UNC Greensboro fell in both contests.
“I thought we passed a moved a lot better in the second half,” said Church. “Obviously, the last goal was an absolutely beautiful goal from an outside back playing to a forward’s feet and then laying it off and then net it to.”
The Blue Devils will continue their five-game homestand on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 7:00 p.m., by hosting College of Charleston.
Blue Devil Notes:
• Freshman Kelly Cobb now owns five goals, four assists and 14 points over the last six matches.
• Duke now owns nine different players who have scored in the eight matches.
• Duke held an 8-0 advantage in corner kicks.
• The Blue Devils feature only one more nonconference match before opening ACC action on Sunday.
• Sophomore Alex Straton made her return off the bench on Sunday following missing the last three matches due to an injured ankle. She added an assist in her return.