CARY, N.C. - The top-seeded and third-ranked Duke women's soccer team went down by two goals in the first half to fifth-seeded and ninth-ranked Wake Forest on Friday evening and were unable to mount a comeback falling, 2-1, in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) semifinals at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
The Blue Devils dropped to 17-3-1 overall on the season and will next await the NCAA Tournament selection show on Monday, Nov. 7 at 4:30 p.m. Wake Forest improved to 14-3-3 and will make its second straight ACC Championship appearance.
Duke came out very slow in the opening minutes of the match and allowed a goal by the Demon Deacons in the 26th minute to go down, 1-0. Rachel Nuzzolese sent a corner kick into the box where Riley Ridgik headed it to Kim Marshall, who then headed in her second goal of the season.
The Blue Devils started to come alive after this and thought they evened the match in the 31st minute as sophomore Mollie Pathman sent a corner kick into the box to redshirt sophomore Kim DeCesare. A native of Massapequa Park, N.Y., DeCesare headed a shot that was going into the net but a Demon Deacon defender headed the attempt off the line to save a goal.
DeCesare added two more shots before the Blue Devils scored a goal that was called back in the 40th minute. Junior Nicole Lipp served the ball into a leaping sophomore Natasha Anasi in the box, who kicked the ball into the net by a charging Wake Forest goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. The goal was not allowed by the official due to an offside call on Anasi.
During the collision between Anasi and Bledsoe, Bledsoe remained down for a while but eventually stayed in the match.
At the end of the first half, Duke trailed Wake Forest, 1-0. The Blue Devils held a 5-4 shot advantage.
Wake Forest came out in the second half and notched its second goal of the match at the 50:30 mark. Jackie Logue made a long run down the far side of the field and passed to Jackie McSally, who decided against shooting and sent a perfect pass to a charging Nuzzolese. Nuzzolese rocketed a right-footed shot just inside the left post past Duke goalkeeper Tara Campbell.
The two goals allowed for the Blue Devils matched a season high allowed -- Texas A&M on Sept. 9.
Duke once again started pressuring Wake Forest even more and eventually got on the board in the 66th minute. Junior defender Libby Jandl served a long pass to sophomore Kaitlyn Kerr. Kerr, who is out of Bensalem, Pa., sent a perfect cross to a leaping DeCesare, who headed in her third goal of the season in the right corner to cut the Demon Deacon lead to 2-1.
The Blue Devils kept trying to even the match and eventually went with four forwards for the final 10 minutes, but couldn't get the second goal. With 30 seconds remaining, freshman Kelly Cobb received the ball charging at the goal and as Bledsoe came towards her Cobb tried to flick the ball over the goalkeeper's head but it went just wide of the right post.
For the match, Campbell finished with five saves, while Bledsoe added four. Campbell, who is out of Cincinnati, Ohio, was playing her first match since suffering a broken nose on Sunday, Oct. 30 against Virginia Tech.
Duke and Wake Forest finished the match with 11 shots each, while the Demon Deacons held a 3-2 lead in corner kicks. DeCesare led the Blue Devils with a season-high five shots off the bench, which was the same as Duke's starting 11.
The NCAA Tournament selection show will be aired live on www.ncaa.com.
- Duke trailed at the half for only the third time this year -- Notre Dame (W, 3-1), Maryland (W, 3-1).
- The Blue Devils lost for only the third time this season and trailed for only the fifth time all year.
- Duke moves to 4-9 all-time in the semifinals of the ACC Championship, while head coach Robbie Church falls to 0-5.
- d - u - k - e -
Duke Head Coach Robbie Church:
"Congratulations to Wake Forest. I hope they do well the rest of the tournament. I'm proud of the way the team played when we went down 2-0. We did a good job of fighting back."
"I'm disappointed with how we started. We didn't do a good job early in the game and that disappointment includes me. I'm disappointed in myself for not preparing them well enough. We were outworked early in the first half. Our shape was not very good; our position was not very good."
"We didn't play as hard and go after it as hard as we did earlier in the year. I didn't see the hunger tonight that we showed earlier. There are some questions to be answered in the NCAA Tournament. Are we satisfied? Or are we still hungry for more? Because if we don't get it done going forward, that will be the end of our season."
Duke Sophomore Midfielder Kim DeCesare
On her shot that nearly went into the goal in the first half:
"I thought it went in. I honestly thought that after that we were going to come back and get another one. It was close. I wish it went in."