DURHAM, N.C. - The sixth-ranked Blue Devil women's soccer team controlled play from the opening whistle at home at Koskinen Stadium on Sunday and cruised past Francis Marion, 4-0, in Duke's final regular season match. The Blue Devils featured goals from juniors Kaitlyn Kerr and Kim DeCesare and sophomores Kelly Cobb and Katy Colas.
Duke ends the regular season with a 12-3-1 record overall and a 5-3-2 mark in the ACC, while Francis Marion drops to 6-9-1.
The Blue Devils opened the match as the aggressor, controlling possession for most of the opening 45 minutes, but was only able to convert on one of their many opportunities. In the fourth minute, Kerr fired a header that was just outside the reach of Patriot goalkeeper Taylor O'Berry, but hit the post and bounced out. Junior Laura Weinberg received the rebound but hit her shot just right of the post.
Duke scored its lone tally of the first half a minute later off a corner kick by junior Gilda Doria. Doria, who is out of West Palm Beach, Fla., played a short corner to freshman Cassie Pecht, who then turned and played a perfectly flighted ball to the back post. Kerr was able to run on the ball and head it into the left corner for her fifth goal of the year.
Kerr, who is out of Bensalem, Pa., had a number of other scoring opportunities in the half as she recorded seven shots, but was unable to score. Duke outshot the Patriots 25-2 in the first stanza.
"I think we have been getting better and better," said Kerr. "In the beginning [of the season] we started out as individuals, playing more as individuals and everyone not together as a team as much. But as the season has progressed, I think we have definitely gotten into that mindset more and we are prepared for this and are looking forward to it."
As the second half begun, the Blue Devils again controlled possession and created a number of opportunities. In the 58th minute, Pecht played an outstanding through ball to Cobb on the right flank. Cobb took a couple of touches to get the ball into the box before firing a rocket into the top right corner of the net to put the Blue Devils up 2-0.
A native of Chugiak, Alaska, Cobb posted her first goal of the season, after missing most of the season after playing in the U-20 World Cup and dealing with an ankle injury. Last season, Cobb notched 11 goals, which was tied for the team lead. With her two assists on Duke's first two goals, Pecht tied a Duke freshman record with 11 assists on the season. She also moved into a tie for fourth on the Blue Devil overall single-season list.
With 15 minutes remaining in the match, Weinberg played a cross off a corner kick and DeCesare was able to head it into the back of the net for her 12th tally of the year. The combination of DeCesare and Weinberg, have now registered 27 goals, which ties the Duke single-season record for highest scoring duo. They tied KayAnne Gummersall and Elisabeth Redmond's 27 goals from 2008.
In the 82nd minute, junior Mollie Pathman crossed the ball to a wide open Katy Colas, who was able to head the ball home for her second goal of the year to put Duke head 4-0.
"On the fourth goal, Callie [Simpkins] had a really good opportunity to go to goal herself, but she saw a better opportunity," said Duke head coach Robbie Church. "She played the ball wide to Mollie and then Mollie served it to the backside and then Katy finished it. That is what we have to do. As we move forward to the ACC Tournament, when we have opportunities we need to find people with better opportunities."
For the match, Duke held a 37-3 shot advantage with Kerr leading the way with a career-high eight attempts. A total of 14 different Blue Devils registered shots.
"We had three nice goals in the second half," commented Church. "I just thought we were more dangerous in the second half as we had better movement off the ball. Frank has done a great job with Francis Marion. They were really organized, not as athletic as we are, but very organized and very tough to break down. They have a lot of players behind the ball."
Blue Devil senior Tara Campbell started the match and collected the win as she played 45 minutes. Redshirt freshman Ali Kershner and redshirt sophomore Meghan Thomas finished the match in the net as Duke posted its fifth shutout of the season.
The Blue Devils are slated to begin the ACC Tournament Oct. 28. Due to the scheduling, Duke will wait for other ACC results this week to determine who and where it will play in the quarterfinals. The top four seeds will host matches.
"We are really looking forward to the tournament," said Church. "I think this team is really built for tournament time, it is a veteran team who has been waiting for it. We had a good regular season, but the tournament is where this team is really good, we have some big time players and they perform well in those atmospheres."
As a team, Duke now owns 52 goals in 2012, which ranks as the seventh-most in school history. The Blue Devils also own 59 assists to rank third.
Junior Kaitlyn Kerr posted her ninth career game-winning goal on the season to move her into a tie for seventh on Duke's all-time charts.
Gilda Doria netted one assist to give her 18 for her career, which ranks tied for ninth on Duke's career charts.
Cassie Pecht's 21 points on the season ranks tied for sixth on Duke's freshman point's chart.