DURHAM, N.C. – Coming off a historic 2017 season which saw them capture the ACC regular season championship and reach the NCAA College Cup for the second time in three years, the Duke Blue Devils were ranked third in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Top 25 rankings released Tuesday.
The mark is the highest preseason ranking in the coaches poll since coming in at No. 3 in 2016. The Blue Devils have now been preseason ranked in the top 10 for the fourth time and top 15 for the fifth time over the last seven seasons.
Despite losing a number of seniors from the memorable 2017 season, including a program-record six NWSL picks, a majority of the Blue Devils’ scoring returns this year. Duke returns four of its top five point scorers and four of its top five in goals, including All-ACC Preseason Team selections Kayla McCoy (14 goals, seven assists and 35 points) and Ella Stevens (five goals, 11 assists and 21 points) along with Chelsea Burns (six goals, three assists and 15 points) and Taylor Racioppi (five goals, five assists and 15 points).
Senior Kat McDonald (two goals, two assists, six points) and sophomore Karlie Paschall (two goals, one assist, five points) round out the six returnees who were in the top 10 in scoring last season for Duke.
Along with Burns, the Blue Devils return ACC Freshman Team selection Taylor Mitchell to a standout defensive line that helped set school records for shutouts (18), ACC clean sheets (8) and ACC goal differential (+20). Mia Gyau, who suffered a season-ending injury just three matches into the 2017 season, will return as well for her junior campaign.
Church also welcomes one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, as six new faces make up the Blue Devils’ No. 8 nationally ranked crew, including Emily Crocco, Delaney Graham, Marykate McGuire, Sydney Simmons, Holly Stam and Mackenzie Pluck. This is the seventh-straight year that the Blue Devils have reeled in a top 10 recruiting class, with the 2018 edition highlighted by five players in TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Top 150, including three inside the top 75.
The Blue Devils will host a pair of exhibition contests at Koskinen Stadium this week, 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.
Fans can keep up with all things Duke women’s soccer by following the program on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching for “DukeWSoc”. Behind-the-scenes content of women’s soccer and all Duke athletic programs can be found on Snapchat by following “dukeathletics”.
2018 United Soccer Coaches Preseason Top 25 (2017 Final Ranking, 2017 W-L-T)
- Stanford (1, 22-1-0)
- UCLA (2, 18-3-2)
- Duke (3, 23-2-0)
- Penn State (5, 15-5-4)
- South Carolina (4, 19-2-1)
- North Carolina (8, 17-3-2)
- Florida (6, 17-7-0)
- Virginia (9, 13-6-4)
- West Virginia (10, 16-4-3)
- Florida State (15, 13-7-1)
- Texas A&M (12, 18-2-2)
- Southern California (13, 15-3-2)
- Princeton (7, 16-3-1)
- Notre Dame (18, 10-7-5)
- Baylor (11, 15-6-3)
- Central Florida (17, 13-2-3)
- Texas (14, 14-4-3)
- Pepperdine (16, 15-3-3)
- Santa Clara (20, 15-7-1)
- NC State (21, 25-5-2)
- Washington State (19, 10-8-4)
- Georgetown (24, 15-3-4)
- Ohio State (23, 15-5-1)
- Rutgers (22, 13-2-6)
- Tennessee (25, 15-4-2)
Receiving Votes: California (63), South Florida (41), Wake Forest (34), Clemson (31), Oklahoma State (30), Auburn (25), Colorado (17), Ole Miss (12), Minnesota (8), Northwestern (8), Southern Methodist University (5), Arizona (4), LSU (4), Vanderbilt (4), Wisconsin (3), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2), Butler (1), Samford (1)