DURHAM, N.C. — In a matchup of two of the best teams in the nation, second-ranked West Virginia turned in a 3-1 victory over the Duke women’s soccer team Friday evening at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C.
The Blue Devils (4-2-1) allowed a season-high three goals and 16 shots, but were playing without one of the best defenders in the nation, Rebecca Quinn, who was out with an injury. Duke entered the match without allowing a goal over the last 331 minutes and had not allowed a goal since Quinn returned from the Olympics.
“I give West Virginia credit,” said Duke head coach Robbie Church. “They were great, absolutely great. They were really great from the opening minute, all the way through. We didn’t play as well, especially in the first half. You cannot play the No. 2 team in the country and come out and play as poorly as we did in the first half. Our job is to prepare them as coaches, to prepare them to play. It starts right with us first, because we weren’t prepared to play. We didn’t look like ourselves. We didn’t execute like ourselves. We didn’t hold the ball, we didn’t move the ball. We had a good game plan against them, but we just didn’t get it done. We’ve got to get better. We’re just not good enough right now and we’ve got to get ourselves better. And we will; there is no question about it.”
West Virginia (6-0-1) came out and outplayed the Blue Devils over the first 45 minutes outshooting Duke, 11-1. The Mountaineers featured a flurry of shots over a span of a minute early on and the Blue Devils escaped without allowing a goal.
Duke featured one legitimate scoring chance in the first half as freshman Mia Gyau attacked the right side of the pitch and crossed in a great ball to sophomore Kayla McCoy, but her header went wide right in the in the 24th minute.
The Mountaineers were able to get on the board in the 38th minute as Amandine Pierre-Louis took the ball, raced towards the box and blasted in rocket towards Duke goalkeeper EJ Proctor. Proctor, who hails from Wilson, N.C., tried to save the ball over the crossbar, but it went back over her head and into the goal.
The one shot in the first half for the Blue Devils was a season low.
West Virginia added another goal at the 49:35 mark to start the second half. After a tackle towards midfield that the Blue Devils thought there was a hand ball, Duke failed to clear a ball that left Proctor out of the goal. Michaela Abam took advantage and blasted a long shot over Proctor’s head and into the goal to go ahead 2-1.
Duke started to show some life as freshman Olivia Erlbeck, who was making the third start of her career, fired two shots and McCoy added a shot off a pass from Erlbeck that narrowly went wide left.
Finally, the Blue Devils put one on the scoreboard at the 65:37 mark to cut the lead to 2-1. Erlbeck, who is from San Diego, Calif., sent in a free kick from 28 yards to junior Ashton Miller. A product of Okemos, Mich., Miller got separation from her defender who fell down, and headed in a goal into the right corner for her second of the season.
In the 73rd minute, the Blue Devils nearly evened the ledger as junior Schuyler DeBree found Erlbeck, who launched a right-footed, long shot that just curved outside the far post.
West Virginia was awarded a penalty kick at the 79:05 mark, after senior Lizzy Raben looked like she made a clean tackle of a charging Mountaineer on the right side of the box. Abam stepped up and finished the penalty kick into the right corner to make the score, 3-1.
For the match, West Virginia outshot Duke 16-8. Erlbeck led the Blue Devils with a tied for a career-high three shots.
“We need to get better,” said Miller. “I think we’re all pretty motivated. Looking at the girls in the eyes you could see it, we’re all pumped and we’re ready to get after it this week and on Sunday we’re going to get after it.”
Proctor finished the night with a season-high four saves over 90 minutes of play.
“With these teams, we’ve got to make sure that we play as hard as we possibly can,” said Church. “At times we played really hard and played really well, but at other times we didn’t. So we’ve got to learn from this. It’s disappointing. It’s our second loss and we’ve got a tie in there. Everybody is shooting for us, and we understand that, and everybody is celebrating. I just don’t feel like we understand that as well as we need to, and again that goes back to myself, my coaching staff about getting them ready and more prepared. I think you also definitely have to take your hats off to West Virginia because they were terrific tonight.”
Duke will close non-conference action Sunday, Sept. 11 as the Blue Devils host High Point University at 6 p.m.
Notes: • Prior to the match, Duke recognized senior Rebecca Quinn along with West Virginia’s Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence, who all helped lead Canada to a bronze medal at the Olympics in Rio.