DURHAM, N.C. – A pair of goals in the second half were the difference Thursday night at Koskinen Stadium, as the No. 12 Duke Blue Devils (3-1-1) opened the 2018 Duke Nike Classic with a 2-0 victory against the Marquette Golden Eagles (0-3-1).
Mackenzie Pluck and Ella Stevens led the way for the Blue Devils, representing the two goals scored on the night. Stevens played a part in both, racking up her fourth assist of the season on Pluck's score before tallying her first goal of the 2018 campaign. Pluck’s goal is her team-leading third of the year in five-career contests for the freshman.
On the defensive side, Brooke Heinsohn registered her third-straight clean sheet and fourth overall this year. The Norfolk, Mass., native has only allowed two goals in 470 minutes of action, recording a 0.38 goals against average while making 20 saves.
“I thought we played really well tonight,” head coach Robbie Church said. “We created a lot of opportunities and I was thrilled with how we were playing for the most part. That’s a good Marquette team we played tonight. The wins aren’t there for them, but they work and fight hard."
Duke came out firing early, reeling off five shots in the first 10 minutes to Marquette’s one. The night’s first real chance came in the fourth minute, when Kayla McCoy made a pass to Pluck, setting up her first shot of the game that was saved by MU’s keeper. Pluck would have a near miss seven minutes later, as an attempt in the box was tipped away off the crossbar by the goalie.
The game’s first goal nearly came off the head of McCoy in the 33rd minute, as the senior made a diving header that went just wide right of the goal. Duke would get three more attempts on goal in the first 45 before the contest went into intermission as a scoreless draw.
Pressure was again applied out of the gate by the Blue Devils, as they registered four shots within the first 10 minutes of the second frame. The Golden Eagles responded with a header that was collected by Heinsohn, one of her two saves on the night and the last on target attempt for the visitors.
Pluck finally broke the draw with a shot into the top right of the goal to make it 1-0 Duke in the 68th minute. Stevens fed the ball to Pluck, who made a run into the 18', slid to the right past the keeper and slammed the ball home.
“I thought Mackenzie was really dangerous in the second half. She was in the first half, too, but she was really, really dangerous in the second half,” Church said. “She is a very talented player and I thought she did really well tonight.”
Goal No. 2 on the night came nearly five minutes later, as Stevens tallied the score in the 73rd minute to give Duke insurance. The junior took a cross from Marykate McGuire, put a spin move past her defender and rolled the ball past the keeper for the score. Three more shots would be taken by the Blue Devils in the match’s final moments, including one on goal, before the contest wrapped up with a 2-0 win for the home squad.
“What a great second half Ella had,” Church said. “She’s such a creative player. She had a great assist to set up the first goal and then scored one of her own. She’s just a big time player and played really well tonight.”
It was a dominating performance on the stat sheet for the Blue Devils from start to finish. Church’s squad outshot the Golden Eagles, 22-4, including a 13-1 margin in the first half. Duke also registered nine shots on goal to MU’s two and earned four corners while the Golden Eagles only had one.
Duke returns to action Sunday to wrap up its home tourney, hosting Providence at 2:30 p.m. ET on ACC Network Extra. The Friars are coming off a 1-0 loss to No. 3 North Carolina in Thursday's first contest.
“We’ve struggled so far putting together two games together for a weekend. That’s our goal is to put together two complete games for this weekend. We have to continue to improve on that,” Church said.
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”.