DURHAM, N.C. – After going up against their own teammates for the past nine days, the seventh-ranked Duke women’s soccer team was able to hit the pitch against a true opponent on Friday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C. The Blue Devils registered two goals by freshmen and took down Tennessee, 2-0, in an exhibition contest.
“No. 1 you get a win; it is important to get a win anytime you play and compete,” said Duke head coach Robbie Church. “No. 2 we got a shutout and No. 3 we got a couple of goals. We would have liked to have a few more [goals] that we left out on the field. It was a very good start – kind of what we expected. We have done more work up to this stage on defense, rather than offense. We played a lot of new players, a lot of combinations, which led to a little bit of inconsistency. Overall, I think it was a really good performance.”
Duke, which featured four freshmen in the starting lineup, connected on a goal within the first five minutes of the match to take a 1-0 advantage. Senior Mollie Pathman served in a corner kick to a leaping redshirt-senior Kim DeCesare. A product of Massapequa Park, N.Y., DeCesare headed the ball towards the goal line where freshman Christina Gibbons battled Tennessee goalkeeper Julie Eckel and a defender for the ball. Gibbons, who is from Raleigh, N.C., was able to slide the ball into the right corner of the net at the 4:41 mark.
The Blue Devils attempted a total of six shots in the first half and held Tennessee to two, while holding a 1-0 advantage on the scoreboard.
In the second half, the Blue Devils had a few great chances to score as senior Laura Weinberg fired a left-footed shot from the left corner of the box, but Lady Vol keeper Hannah Steadman made a diving stop to her left to keep the score 1-0 in the 51st minute. DeCesare added two shots in the 67th minute as she hit the right post and off the rebound fired a shot that was saved by Steadman.
With less than two minutes remaining, freshman Krysia Sikora drove to the top of the 18 and fired a right-footed shot that hit the crossbar, came down and hit the goalkeeper and went into the goal to give the Blue Devils a 2-0 advantage.
For the match, Duke outshot Tennessee, 12-3, and held a 7-3 advantage in corner kicks. Weinberg attempted a game-high four shots, while junior Kelly Cobb and DeCesare added two shots each.
Redshirt junior Meghan Thomas started in goal and played the first half for the Blue Devils, while redshirt sophomore Ali Kershner finished the second half. Neither keeper had a save in 45 minutes of play.
Duke’s defense notched a shutout and featured a much different look on Friday, after the graduation of three different three-year starters. Senior Natasha Anasi anchored the backline with help from Gibbons, freshman Lizzy Raben, junior Tabria Williford and others.
Duke will open the regular season on the road at 12th-ranked Texas A&M on Friday, Aug. 23. The Blue Devils will close the weekend at South Carolina on Sunday, Aug. 25. The first home contest will be in the Duke Nike Classic Sept. 6 and 8, which includes three top-10 ranked teams -- North Carolina, UCLA and Duke.
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.