CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - After scoring two early goals and dominating the run of play over the first 30 minutes, the top-ranked Duke women's soccer team was outscored 3-0 and dropped a 3-2 decision to 20th-ranked Florida on Sunday afternoon to conclude the UNC Nike Classic at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Duke fell to 2-1 overall, while Florida improved to 1-1-1 on the season. The three goals allowed is the most the Blue Devils have allowed since North Carolina posted five on the board on Oct. 28, 2010.
"I think you have to give the University of Florida a lot of credit," said Duke head coach Robbie Church. "They were down two goals as we started off great, but they never gave up. The goal at the end of the half was a huge goal for them to cut the lead to 2-1. That gave them momentum there. I was disappointed with how we responded in the second half a little bit. We had a chance to stop, regroup and do a few things."
The Blue Devils jumped on Florida from the beginning of the match as Duke posted five corner kicks over the first six minutes. Then in the 10th minute, Kim DeCesare sent a short pass to junior Gilda Doria, who blasted in a right-footed shot just inside the right post. Doria, who is a native of West Palm Beach, Fla., now owns three goals over the past six games dating back to last season, including two in 2012.
Duke continued to pressure the Gators and added a second goal of the match at the 28:30 mark as freshman Cassie Pecht took away a pass from Florida and hit just inside the left post from 20 yards out. A product of Mechanicsburg, Fla., Pecht already owns two goals in three matches on the season.
Florida started to take control of the match later in the half and finished with five shots. The Gators capitalized on an excellent chance in the 39th minute as Havana Solaun played a great through-ball to Jillian Graff, who beat Duke goalkeeper Tara Campbell inside the right post.
At the end of the first half, Duke held a 9-5 shot advantage.
"We had a letdown after we scored those two goals," commented defender Natasha Anasi. "I think when we have those kind of lapses goals are going to slip in. When we have mental lapses, they are going to punish us for those. Credit to them to punish us with those chances and they never quit the entire time we were playing out there."
Both teams went back and forth in the second half and with 25:44 left in the period, Florida's Erika Tymrak sent a hard cross into the box and it bounced off the back of a Duke defender and landed in the net to even the match, 2-2.
The Blue Devils mounted an attack late in the second half with four shots over the final 12 minutes, but Duke couldn't get anything past Gator goalkeeper Taylor Burke.
At the end of regulation, Blue Devil starting defender Maddy Haller was replaced due to dehydration. It marked the first substitution of the afternoon for the Duke defense. Just 3:12 into the first overtime, Mckenzie Barney and Tymrak played a give-and-go and Tymrak finished in the lower left corner to conclude the match in Florida's favor, 3-2.
For the match, Duke outshot Florida, 16-10. The Blue Devils were led by Doria with a career-high five shots, while Laura Weinberg added three.
"We had chances to make plays, but we didn't make plays," said Church. "We served a lot of balls into the goalkeeper and served them behind the goal. It is a disappointing loss. You cannot be up 2-0 and give away a game like this. You have to battle back and play a full 90 minutes."
Campbell, who is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, finished with one save in 93:12 of the match for Duke in goal. Burke totaled five saves for Florida in the net.
Duke will next travel to the Trojan Invitational as the Blue Devils will face Southern California on Friday, Aug. 31 at 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised live on the Pac 12 Network.