DURHAM, N.C. - The fourth-ranked Duke women's soccer team scored four first half goals en route to a 4-1 victory over San Diego on Friday evening in the Duke Nike Classic, which was played at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C.
Junior Gilda Doria scored two goals for the Blue Devils, while junior Kaitlyn Kerr added a goal and two assists as Duke improved to 5-1-0 on the season. San Diego dropped to 3-4-0 on the year.
"Overall, in the first half we scored four goals, but I didn't think we played that great," said Duke head coach Robbie Church. "We are on a nice little run right now, we are scoring goals. We are having some nice passing and finishing. I thought we actually played better as a whole group in the second half, but we didn't score any goals. That is kind of how this game is. I am very happy to win 4-1."
Both teams battled hard to start the match and Duke leading scorer Kim DeCesare went down with a sprained ankle in the sixth minute and did not return. DeCesare, who is from Massapequa Park, N.Y., had scored six goals and posted four assists in the first five matches. The six goals in five matches were tied for the second-most scored in Duke history over the first five contests.
The Blue Devils stepped up and took an early 1-0 lead at the 8:55 mark as freshman Cassie Pecht played a perfect cross into the box where Kerr headed the ball into the top left portion of the netting for her second goal of the season.
A little over five minutes later as Duke was clearing the ball from in front of the goal, it bounced off a Duke defender and went into the net for an own-goal to even the match, 1-1.
Duke didn't let down and went ahead for good in the 25th minute as Kerr sent a cross in from the left side and the Toreros goalkeeper Mckenna Tollack tried to tap it away, but the ball landed at the feet of Laura Weinberg. The junior scored her fifth goal of the season to put the Blue Devils ahead, 2-1. Weinberg, who is out of Boca Raton, Fla., now owns 23 career goals in three seasons.
A native of West Palm Beach, Fla., Doria then took control of the match and showed her offensive skills. In the 30th minute, she received a pass from junior defender Natasha Anasi, dribbled through three defenders and hit the right corner of the net to give Duke a 3-1 advantage. She didn't stop there as in the 42nd minute Kerr played a ball through to Doria, who tucked it in the left corner for her second goal of the night and fourth of the season.
"We have asked her to be more offensive this year," commented Church on Gilda Doria. "We needed her to go forward a little bit more and get her in a higher position on the field. She is playing with a lot of confidence right now. It is great to see."
At the end of the first half, Duke held a 14-2 advantage in shots and a 4-1 lead.
The Blue Devils and Toreros played 45 minutes of soccer without scoring in the second half, but Duke had plenty of excellent chances, outshooting San Diego, 13-2. In the 59th minute, the Toreros nearly put a second goal on the board as Dani Russell tried to flick a shot over the head of Duke goalkeeper Tara Campbell, but the All-ACC goalkeeper made an outstanding one-handed save.
As a team, Duke outshot San Diego, 27-4, as 10 different Blue Devils attempted shots. Campbell, a product of Cincinnati, Ohio, played 62:44 minutes and posted two saves. Redshirt freshman Ali Kershner finished the match in the net without recording a save. Tollack tallied 10 saves for San Diego over 90 minutes.
In two home matches this season, Duke has now scored 12 goals. The Blue Devils also played the entire match without starting midfielder Nicole Lipp, who suffered a sprained ankle in the Washington State match.
"I thought it was a good match," said Doria. "San Diego really came at us in the first half and they had us for about the first 15 minutes. We settled in a little bit and played a lot better in the second half. Obviously, we scored four goals in the first, but I thought we played better in the second. We started to get our rhythm and showed what we could do out there."
In the first match of the Duke Nike Classic, 14th-ranked North Carolina upset eighth-ranked Marquette, 4-0. The classic will conclude on Sunday with San Diego versus North Carolina at 11:00 a.m., followed by Duke against Marquette at 1:30 p.m.
"It will be a great challenge," said Church on the Marquette match on Sunday. "They are No. 8 in the country, are a very good team and well-coached. This will probably be the strongest team we have played since Florida. I am looking forward to this opportunity before going into the ACC."