RALEIGH, N.C.- Junior Laura Weinberg, freshman Cassie Pecht and sophomore Katie Trees each tallied a goals to lead the fifth-ranked Duke women's soccer team past N.C. State in a difficult road test on Thursday in Raleigh, N.C. With the goal, Weinberg now owns 15 this year and inches closer to the Duke single-season record of 18 goals in a season.
"I didn't think we were as sharp as we had been the last couple of games," said Duke head coach Robbie Church about the team's performance tonight. "We have been really been playing well. Let's give N.C. State a lot of credit. They worked hard, hustled and they were focused the whole game. I didn't think we were as sharp in our decision making and we didn't have the same movement off the ball that we have had the last couple of games. We stayed with it and had our chances."
With the victory, the Blue Devils improved to 11-3-1 overall and 5-2-1 in ACC action, while N.C. State dropped to 5-10, 0-6.
"Anytime you can get a road win in the ACC, my gosh we will take it and a shutout to go with it. We will take it," said Church.
The Blue Devils started the match as the aggressor, pressuring the Wolfpack every time they touched the ball and created a number of turnovers. Despite keeping possession for a majority of the first half, most of the Blue Devils serious opportunities came out of these turnovers.
Just minutes into the game, junior Gilda Doria played a long through-ball to Weinberg, who flicked the bouncing ball over the Wolfpack goalkeeper Madison Shaw. The N.C. State defense was able to clear the ball out, but Pecht, who was waiting just outside the box, intercepted the ball and fired a low shot that missed the net by inches.
The Wolfpack's most dangerous chance of the half came just eight minutes into the game when a long pass was played in behind the Blue Devil defense to Brittany Stanko. Junior Mollie Pathman was able to out run Stanko and shield the ball so senior Tara Campbell could charge out of the goal to make the save.
With 13 minutes remaining in the half, junior Kaitlyn Kerr chipped a ball through to a running Weinberg, who tried to flick the bouncing ball over the charging Wolfpack goalkeeper. Shaw was just able to get a hand on the ball to prevent Weinberg from collecting the ball in front of an empty net, keeping the game level at 0-0.
The Blue Devils finally broke the tie with eight minutes remaining in the first half when Pecht collected the ball at mid field and started the counter attack for Duke. Pecht, who is out of Mechanicsburg, Pa., found a running Pathman on the left flank, who played a dangerous ball across the front of the goal. After bouncing around in the traffic, junior Kim DeCesare tapped the ball out the Pecht, who was waiting around the penalty spot and fired a shot into the right corner. The goal continued an outstanding freshman campaign for Pecht, who now has five goals and nine assists on the year.
At the end of the first half, Duke held a 9-4 shot advantage.
As the play resumed in the second half, N.C. State started possessing the ball and put pressure on the Blue Devil defense on a number of occasions, however the strong defense of seniors Erin Koballa, Libby Jandl and Maddy Haller as well as junior Natasha Anasi were able to keep them out of the net, preserving Campbell's third shutout of the year and 30th of her career.
"I thought when we made a sub Maddy Haller really played well for us at left back," said Church. "Katie Trees, who scored the third goal, played really well to for us. It was a tough game. It is always close when we play here."
With 17 minutes remaining in the game, Campbell sent a long goal kick to DeCesare, who flicked a ball on with her head to Weinberg. The Boca Raton, Fla., product collected the ball and dribbled into the box where she was able to out run her defender, tuck the ball into the near-post and put the Blue Devils up, 2-0.
Weinberg now owns 35 points on the season, which ranks tied for third-best on the Blue Devil single-season charts. Her 15 goals are also tied for third. The 5-9 forward owns 33 career tallies and 77 points over her three years at Duke. Weinberg has scored goals in nine out of last 11 matches.
"We came out a little flat tonight in the first half, but we were able to regroup at halftime and come out with some momentum," said Weinberg. "We talked about how big this game was in practice all week and we needed to get these three points."
Sophomore Katy Colas crossed the ball in front of the Wolfpack net in the waning moments of the match and after bouncing around, Trees was able to calmly put the ball into the back of the net to give the Blue Devils a commanding 3-0 lead.
The Blue Devils outshot N.C. State by a margin of 18-4 on the match as Weinberg led everyone with six attempts, while Pecht added four and Callie Simpkins came off the bench to produce three late.
In goal for the Blue Devils, Campbell registered two saves over 90 minutes of action. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Campbell is now only four shutouts away from matching the Duke career mark of 34 held by Melissa Carr.
The Blue Devils will return home on Sunday, Oct. 14 as Duke will host Wake Forest at 1:00 p.m., at Koskinen Stadium. The match will be Duke's "Pin" day as the Blue Devils will wear pink jerseys and will raise money for the Blue Devils vs. Cancer student group. There will be an auction prior to and during the match.
The Blue Devils have scored 10 goals over the last three matches.
Cassie Pecht tallied her first career game-winning goal on the night. She owns 19 points on the season to rank tied for ninth on the freshman single-season points list. • Duke owns 47 goals on the season, which ranks tied for ninth on Duke's single-season list, while the 145 points is seventh.