Duke (1-0-0) at South Carolina (1-0-0) Sunday, Aug. 25 • 7:00 PM • www.gamecocksonline.com Columbia, S.C. • Eugene E. Stone III Stadium (5,700
Blue Devils Close Season-Opening Road Trip at South Carolina on Sunday... Coming off an impressive 1-0 victory at 12th-ranked Texas A&M to open the season on Friday in College Station, Texas, the seventh-ranked Duke women’s soccer team will close the weekend with another road contest at South Carolina (1-0) on Sunday, Aug. 25 at 7:00 p.m. The match will be played at Eugene E. Stone III Stadium in Columbia, S.C., and will be aired live on www.gamecocksonline.com. Fans can also follow the action via Twitter by following @Duke_WSOC. Duke posted a 15-6-2 record last season under the direction of head coach Robbie Church, who enters his 13th season with the Blue Devils.
A Look at South Carolina... The gamecocks opened the season with a 2-0 victory over UNC Wilmington on Friday evening with goals from Danielle Au and Stevi Parker. South Carolina is under the direction of head coach Shelley Smith, who is in her 13th season with the Gamecocks. Smith returns nine starters and 20 letterwinners off a squad that produced a 7-10-4 overall mark and 3-7-3 in the SEC. The Gamecocks return leading scorer Danielle Au (4 goals, 3 assists, 11 points) and starting goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo (1.20 GAA, 3 shutouts).
The Series with South Carolina... Duke and South Carolina will meet for the fourth time in school history with the Blue Devils leading the series, 2-0-1. It marks the first time the two squads will play in Columbia, S.C. Duke has outscored South Carolina, 8-2, in the three matches. In the last meeting, Duke downed the Gamecocks, 2-0, in Durham, N.C., with Nicole Lipp and Kaitlyn Kerr posting goals.
DeCesare Continues Hot Streak... Redshirt senior Kim DeCesare continued where she left off from the 2012 campaign on Friday with one goal on a career-high tying six shots at 12th-ranked Texas A&M. Dating back to last season, DeCesare has scored five goals over the last four matches. Over the last two years, DeCesare has scored 17 goals and now owns 24 over her career, which ranks tied for ninth on Duke’s all-time list.
Kershner Makes First Start, Nets Shutout... Blue Devil redshirt sophomore Ali Kershner has been waiting for two years behind four-year starting keeping Tara Campbell to make her first start. Kershner was given the opportunity on Friday night at 12th-ranked Texas A&M and made the most of her chance notching a shutout and three saves over 90 minutes. She had played in five matches in 2012 prior to this season.
Payne, Gibbons, Impressive in Debut... Blue Devil rookie Toni Payne came in at the 29th minute at Texas A&M and was very impressive. Payne started the second half and played the rest of the match, finishing with 62 minutes. Payne created the opportunity for the game-winning goal as she split two defenders in the box and found an open Kim DeCesare for the goal. Freshman Christina Gibbons started on the left side of the backfield and then was moved to the right side. She played extremely well and was tabbed the player of the game by one of the local media in College Station, Texas. Gibbons played the entire 90 minutes.
Opening on the Road... Duke faced one of the toughest season-opening contests during head coach Robbie Church’s 13 years as a head coach on Friday and notched a 1-0 win in front of 5,242 fans. The last time the Blue Devils opened the season on the road against a top 15 ranked opponent was in 2004 at 11th-ranked Tennessee. Duke lost, 4-3, in overtime after owning a 3-1 lead at halftime. Duke opened on the road against a ranked opponent for the second straight year as the Blue Devils downed 20th-ranked William & Mary last season, 4-1. It marks the first time since the 2000 campaign Duke has to open the season with two consecutive true road contests and the first time under the guidance of Church.
Noting Duke... • After playing 45 minutes against Tennessee in the exhibition, redshirt junior Meghan Thomas could get the start in goal on Sunday at South Carolina. Thomas has been in a battle with Ali Kershner during the preseason for the starting job. • The win at Texas A&M marks the sixth straight year the Blue Devils have opened the season with a win. Robbie Church is 11-1-1 in season openers over his tenure at Duke. • Duke will not play a home match until Sept. 6 in the Duke Nike Classic against West Virginia. • The Blue Devils will feature tri-captains in 2013 with Kim DeCesare, Gilda Doria and Kaitlyn Kerr getting the nod from their teammates. • Duke returns 95.4 percent of its scoring from the 2012 season, including 62 of 65 goals scored. • Dating back to the 2011 campaign, nine of the 10 Blue Devil losses have been by one goal. • Duke is coming off advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth time out of the last six years • The Blue Devils welcome the 10th-ranked recruiting class in the nation.
Duke Takes Down Tennessee in Exhibition... The Blue Devils collected a 2-0 victory on Friday, Aug. 16 against Tennessee in Durham, N.C., which marked Duke’s only exhibition contest of the preseason. Duke netted a goal in the first five minutes by freshman Christina Gibbons off a corner kick with assists from Mollie Pathman and Kim DeCesare. Rookie Krysia Sikora added a late goal for the Blue Devils as Duke held the Lady Vols to only three shots, while Duke had 12.
Weinberg Moving Up Career Charts... Senior Laura Weinberg enters her final year with the Blue Devils ranking in the top five in points (5th, 86) and goals (T4th, 34), after posting a school-record 44 points a year ago. Weinberg totaled a career-high 16 goals and 12 assists in 2012 and is only 31 points away from matching the Duke career points mark of 117 held by Kelly Walbert. She is 13 goals away from tying Walbert’s career goals mark of 47 as well. With 18 assists over her career, Weinberg is tied for 11th on the Duke list.
Top Scoring Combinations... The Blue Devil duo of Laura Weinberg and Kim DeCesare return for their final season, after combining to score 32 goals in 2012, which marked a new Duke single-season record for scoring combinations.
Duke’s Highest Scoring Duos 32 – Laura Weinberg (16) & Kim DeCesare (16) in 2012 27 – KayAnne Gummersall (15) & Elisabeth Redmond (12) in 2008 26 – Kelly Walbert (18) & Andi Melde (8) in 1994 25 – Casey McCluskey (16) & Carolyn Riggs (9) in 2004 22 - Kelly Cobb (11) & Kaitlyn Kerr (11) in 2011 22 – Sherrill Kester (14) & Kasey Truman (8) in 1999
In the Rankings... Duke is No. 7 in the preseason NSCAA/Continental Tire ledger, while coming in at No. 8 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com and No. 8 in the Soccer America polls. South Carolina is not ranked nationally.
Stellar Offensive Unit Returns... The Blue Devils return five starters and a total of 22 letterwinners, including 95 percent of their scoring from a year ago. On the offensive end, the Blue Devils return nine student-athletes who scored one or more goals last year, including the top four scorers from a year ago. Duke’s top returning scorers in 2013 include Laura Weinberg (16 goals), Kim DeCesare (16 goals), Kaitlyn Kerr (eight goals) and Cassie Pecht (six goals). The Blue Devils are coming off posting 65 goals and a school-record 207 points in 2012.
Anasi Nets Honors... Duke senior defender Natasha Anasi has been selected one of 31 preseason candidates for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is the top individual award in college soccer. Anasi was a finalist for the award in 2011 and semifinalist in 2012. Anasi has also been named one of the top two center backs in the nation by All White Kit as it released the top 11 players in the nation. She was also added to the All White Kit Defender of the Year candidate list and to the TopDrawerSoccer.com Best IX Second Team in the preseason.
Pecht, Doria Injured... After suffering a torn ACL in the spring, senior Gilda Doria will miss the entire 2013 campaign. A product of West Palm Beach, Fla., Doria has competed in 73 contests over the last three years in the midfield, while totaling seven goals, 20 assists and 34 points. Duke will also be without the services of reigning National Freshman of the Year Cassie Pecht early in the season due to a knee injury. Pecht, who is out of Mechanicsburg, Pa., totaled six goals and an NCAA-best 15 assists as a rookie. She started all 22 matches in 2012 and collected 27 points.
Blue Devils Moving Up Career Charts... Kaitlyn Kerr, Kim DeCesare and Mollie Pathman all rank in the top 15 of the Blue Devil career charts. Kerr is 10th on the career points list (63), 13th in goals (23) and tied 12th in assists (17). DeCesare is tied for ninth in goals (24). Pathman is tied for fourth with 22 assists.
Duke on Air... All home women’s soccer contests will be aired live on the Blue Devil Network, except for the Miami (NSCAA TV), Virginia (ACCDN) and Pittsburgh (RSN/ESPN3) contests. Duke will also be on ESPN3 at Clemson and North Carolina. The entire Duke Nike Classic will be aired live on the Blue Devil Network on Sept. 6 & 8.
Follow DWS on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook... Make sure you follow Duke women’s soccer on Twitter (@Duke_WSOC). New for the 2013 season is the Blue Devil women’s soccer Instagram account (DUKEWSOC) where you can find photos and video. You can see behind-the-scenes pictures, video and info on the Blue Devils. Fans can also “like” Duke women’s soccer on Facebook as well.
Consecutive Starts... Senior defender Natasha Anasi owns a team-best 52-game consecutive starts streak. Over her career, Anasi has helped lead Duke to 33 shutouts on the defensive end. She is a two-time All-America and MAC Hermann Trophy watch list selection.
A Healthy Cobb Returns... After totaling 11 goals and nine assists as a freshman in 2011, junior Kelly Cobb is expected to return to the starting lineup in 2013. Cobb, a product of Chugiak, Alaska, missed the first nine games of last season as she was representing the U.S., at the U-20 World Cup and was then bothered by injuries after returning to Durham. She was limited to only 10 matches and scored two goals in 2012.
New Look Defense... Duke’s defensive unit will have a different look in 2013, with the losses of four-year starters Tara Campbell in goal along with defenders Erin Koballa, Maddy Haller and Libby Jandl. The Blue Devils return Anasi, who is a two-time NSCAA All-America to anchor the backfield. In the season opener at Texas A&M, Duke featured two freshmen in the lineup -- Christina Gibbons and Lizzy Raben -- along with Anasi and junior Tabria Williford. Rookie Malinda Allen also came in to play in the back for the Blue Devils. Others expected to see action on defense include Avery Rape, redshirt junior Alex Straton, Anastasia Hunt and Sammie Thomas. In goal for the Blue Devils will be the tandem of redshirt junior Meghan Thomas and redshirt sophomore Ali Kershner. Thomas, who is a product of Castle Rock, Colo., saw action in four games last year allowing zero goals in 87 minutes. A native of Palo Alto, Calif., Kershner played in five games, allowing one goal in 120 minutes.