SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Behind Taylor Racioppi’s first brace since her freshman season, the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils (14-2-2, 8-1-1 ACC) capped the regular season with a 2-0 victory against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-10-0, 4-6-0 ACC) in South Bend, Ind., Thursday night.
After a first half that was heavily controlled by the Irish for the final 38 minutes, the Blue Devil senior took over in the final 45 to net her first two-goal game since her collegiate debut against Fresno State on Aug. 21, 2015 and send Duke into the postseason on a six-game winning streak.
The Blue Devils wrap up an eight-win conference season and finish second in the league, giving them three-straight years of finishing in the top three of the ACC and 25 wins over the last three years, the best three-year stretch in program history. Duke will face ninth-ranked Florida State in the 2018 ACC Tournament Quarterfinals on Sunday at Koskinen. Kick is set for 1 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.
“This win caps off an unbelievable regular season for us,” head coach Robbie Church said. “Fourteen wins in this regular season is outstanding. We’re very proud as a staff of what this team has done in the regular season but we also know that part of the year is over. We’ve got to focus on the ACC Championship. We’re looking forward to getting back home and hosting that first round game.”
Racioppi tallied her first goal in the opening minute of the second half, as Mackenzie Pluck and Marykate McGuire worked to get the ball into the six-yard box where the senior followed her first shot and finished for her eighth goal of the year. The second came 20 minutes later, as McGuire fed a pass to Racioppi on the left, who shook her defender and fired one past the keeper and into the back right corner of the net.
Duke was the aggressor in the first seven minutes of Thursday night’s match, reeling off three shots inside the first three minutes of play. Notre Dame would flip the script in the eighth minute of play, firing a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar. From there, they would tally four shots on goal, forcing saves from Brooke Heinsohn that would end the first half in a scoreless draw.
After being outshot 8-4 in the first half, Duke took seven chances to ND’s five in the second frame. Only one Irish attempt in the second half would be on target, while the Blue Devils put six on goal, including Racioppi’s two scores.
“In the second half, we pushed up our intensity and our pressure,” Church said “I thought offensively we were very efficient. Taylor [Racioppi] scored two great goals – great service from Marykate [McGuire] on both of those. I thought we came out of the locker room with a much more aggressive mentality and were able to put the pressure on them. It was a hard-fought game. We kind of battled through some areas that we didn’t play well at the beginning of the first half. We were fortunate to get a win.”
Heinsohn made five saves total on the night to pick up her eighth solo shutout of the season. The five denials are a season high for the Blue Devil netminder in ACC play. Heinsohn and the Blue Devils have four shutouts of ACC foes this year, a total that is tied for seventh in program history.
Thursday night’s win gives Duke 13 victories in its last 14 matches and 18 wins in their last 20 ACC regular season games. 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”.