DURHAM, N.C. – Preseason is off and running for the Duke women’s soccer program, as the squad held their first team meeting of the 2018 season Monday and will take to the field for their first practice of the new season Tuesday, July 31.
Monday officially kicked off the 31st season in program history as the players met with compliance, numerous support staff members and ran through the preseason schedule.
“It’s the best time of the year, there’s no question,” head coach Robbie Church said. “It’s like Christmas for coaches. We’re together for every meal, training, travel, our trip to the lake. You really get to know the players and their personalities. This is also such a fun and energetic group that loves to have a good time, but when it comes to time to practice they do a good job of locking in and training hard.”
The Blue Devils will hold their first practices of 2018 with morning and afternoon sessions Tuesday. Duke will hold two-a-days Tuesday and Wednesday before a single practice Thursday ahead of their departure to Lake Gaston for their annual preseason team trip.
Along with practices, the Blue Devils will hold their annual video and photo shoots Tuesday and Wednesday. Fans can follow along with Duke’s preseason adventures by following the program on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching for “DukeWSoc”. Weekly practice reports will be published on GoDuke.com on the Friday of each week during preseason.
Duke will host a pair of exhibition contests at Koskinen Stadium during its 2018 preseason slate, facing off against Georgia (Thursday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. ET) and rival North Carolina (Sunday, Aug. 12 at 10 p.m.). The 2018 season officially opens at home against Ohio State, a 7 p.m. showdown on Thursday, Aug. 16.
Breaking Down #DWS2018…
The 2018 Duke women’s soccer squad is composed of 24 players, headlined by seniors Chelsea Burns, Kayla McCoy, Kat McDonald and Taylor Racioppi.
Seniors: Chelsea Burns, Kayla McCoy, Kat McDonald, Taylor Racioppi
Redshirt Sophomore: Brooke Heinsohn
Freshmen: Emily Crocco, Delaney Graham, Marykate McGuire, Mackenzie Pluck, Sydney Simmons, Holly Stam
New Year, New Numbers…
As preseason gets underway, four Blue Devils changed up their jersey numbers ahead of the 2018 season:
Brooke Heinsohn – No. 26 (2017) to No. 1 (2018)
Taylor Mitchell – No. 31 (2017) to No. 3 (2018)
Remi Swartz – No. 29 (2017) to No. 4 (2018)
Tess Boade – No. 32 (2017) to No. 8 (2018)
No. 8 Recruiting Class Officially Arrives In Durham…
It’s been the norm for Duke women’s soccer to reel in one of the nation’s top signing classes and this year was no different, as head coach Robbie Church signed the nation’s No. 8 class for this season. That group of six freshmen have officially arrived in Durham and are set to begin their Duke careers with the 2018 preseason.
This is the seventh-straight year that the Blue Devils have reeled in a top-10 recruiting class. The six-member squad showcases five players ranked in TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Top 150 for the reigning ACC regular season champions, including three inside the top 75.
Church Entering 18th Year As The Blue Devil Boss…
Robbie Church is looking to build off one of the most impressive seasons in program history as he begins his 18th season at the helm of Duke women’s soccer. The 2017 ACC Coach of the Year and leader of the 2017 United Soccer Coaches National Staff of the Year will look to lead Duke to its 24th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018.
In his 17 seasons, Church has amassed a 219-118-46 record and has won 52 matches over the last three seasons, guiding the Blue Devils to NCAA College Cup appearances in two of the three years. The Duke women's soccer leader looks to continue the success he has had over the last 15 years with 202 wins, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and three trips to the NCAA College Cup in 2011, 2015 and 2017.
Duke Returns Bulk Of Scoring From 2017…
Despite losing a handful of seniors from the memorable 2017 season, including a program-record six NWSL picks, a majority of the Blue Devils’ scoring returns this season. Duke did lose top point getter Imani Dorsey (14 goals, 10 assists and 38 points), but returns four of its top five point scorers and four of its top five in goals, including Kayla McCoy (14 goals, seven assists and 35 points), Ella Stevens (five goals, 11 assists and 21 points), Chelsea Burns (six goals, three assists and 15 points) and Taylor Racioppi (five goals, five assists and 15 points).
Wealth Of Offseason U.S. Experience For The Blue Devils…
Four different Blue Devils saw time with a United States squad during the offseason. Goalkeeper Brooke Heinsohn had two stints with the U-20 squad, traveling to France (Feb. 23 – March 7) and Spain (March 29 – April 10). Kayla McCoy and Ella Stevens traveled to Portland, Ore., with the U-23 team from March 11-17 for the 2018 Thorns Spring Invitational. Taylor Mitchell joined the U-20 squad for the final training camp (June 25 – July 12) in Portland ahead of the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup after spending time in the U-19 training camp in Chula Vista, Calif., in May.
Recapping A History 2017 Campaign…
Church orchestrated one of the greatest seasons in school history in 2017, highlighted by 13 broken school records and the program’s fourth NCAA College Cup appearance. The Blue Devils amassed a program-record 23 victories in 2017 and went 10-0-0 in conference play en route to claiming the ACC regular season championship for the third time in history.
Duke’s rewriting of the record book did not stop there, as it also set the school record for shutouts (18), home wins (15), ACC wins (10), ranked victories (9) ACC shutouts (8) and ACC goal differential (+20). Church led Duke to its 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance and 14th in the last 15 seasons, while also being awarded with the second No. 1 seed in school history, with the other coming in 2011.
Individually, the Blue Devils produced a school record three United Soccer Coaches All-Americans, as well as a school-best and league-high nine All-ACC stars. Those included ACC Offensive Player of the Year/First Team All-American (Imani Dorsey), Midfielder of the Year/First Team All-American (Rebecca Quinn) and Defender of the Year/Third Team All-American (Schuyler DeBree).