DURHAM, N.C. – For the 24th time in program history, the Duke women’s soccer program will be dancing in November, as the Blue Devils received a No. 4 seed and will open the 2018 NCAA Tournament against Rutgers on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. ET.
“We’re very proud to once again be in the NCAA Tournament,” head coach Robbie Church said. “It’s a chance to win a national championship. That has been the goal since we started back in August. I thought we had a great regular season and looking forward to getting postseason underway on Friday.”
Duke, who heads into Friday with a 14-3-2 record and 8-1-1 ACC ledger, received a national seed for the fourth-straight season and ninth time in program history. With the selection, the Blue Devils have now made the big dance for the 15th time in the last 16 seasons and will host at least a first round matchup for the fourth-straight year.
“Getting to host is important,” Church said. “You’re going to be at home, playing on your own field, sleeping in your own bed. You’ll be familiar with everything, but it doesn’t win you games. You still have to go out and execute. It’s an advantage, but we’re facing a really tough team in Rutgers. They’re very well coached and an outstanding program. It’s going to be a heck of a first round game.”
Rutgers will be making its seventh-straight and ninth overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, finishing second in the Big Ten with an 11-3-5 record. Friday’s matchup will be the fifth in history between the Blue Devils and Scarlet Knights, with Duke holding a 3-1-0 advantage. Rutgers took the last meeting, a 2-0 decision in Columbia, S.C., on Nov. 13, 2009 in an NCAA Tournament First Round matchup.
Friday’s winner will move on to the second round to face the winner of Mississippi State (9-6-2) and Lipscomb (14-4-2), who will meet Friday at 5 p.m. ET in Starkville, Miss. Georgetown (17-0-3) is the region’s No. 1 seed, with Baylor (17-5-0) and ACC foe Virginia (15-4-0) taking the No. 2 and 3 seeds, respectively.
The second and third rounds are set to be held in Washington, D.C., unless Georgetown loses in the first round of play. Should Duke advance and Georgetown lose, the Blue Devils will host the second and third rounds of play.
The Atlantic Coast Conference led all conferences with 10 teams in the tournament. The SEC followed with nine teams, and the Big Ten Conference and Big 12 Conference each will have six representatives in this year's tournament.
Duke will enter the 2018 NCAA Tournament led by five All-ACC selections, headlined by All-ACC First Team honoree Kayla McCoy. The senior tops the team with 10 goals and 27 points, which are both second in the ACC, along with seven assists, which stands fourth. Along with McCoy are All-ACC Second Team selections Taylor Racioppi and Ella Stevens. Racioppi has tallied nine goals on the year, including four in the last six matches. Stevens is one of the nation’s top assist leaders, posting 10 dimes that stand third in the league and 10th in the nation.
Round out Duke’s All-ACC honorees are rookies Sydney Simmons and Delaney Graham, who were named ACC All-Freshman Team. It’s the eighth time in program history that the Blue Devils have received multiple All-Freshman Team selections in one season and the first since McCoy and Racioppi did so in 2015.
Along with McCoy and Racioppi, Duke will also be led by its other two seniors, Chelsea Burns and Kat McDonald. The four make up the winningest senior class in program history with 66 victories. In their four years, the group has made the NCAA Tournament every year with two College Cup appearances (2015 & 2017) and a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2016. The group of four has also earned a top-three finish in the ACC for three-straight seasons, highlighted by claiming the 2017 ACC Regular Season Championship.
“This senior class has been our leaders all year long, both on and off the field,” Church said. “Our kids are playing for those seniors right now. I’m very happy for them and they have represented our women’s soccer program and the university so well over their four years. We get to stay together for at least another week and our goal is to win and advance and stay together. We’re looking forward to stepping out on the field Friday night with that group leading us.”
For more information on Duke women’s soccer, follow the Blue Devils on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching for “DukeWSoc”. You can also find all-access coverage of all Duke athletic programs on SnapChat by searching for “dukeathletics”.