DURHAM, N.C. – The 31st season in Duke women’s soccer history is officially in the books, as the Blue Devils held its annual banquet to celebrate the 2018 campaign. Under the direction of head coach Robbie Church, the Blue Devils finished second in the ACC and returned to the NCAA Tournament for the 24th time in program history, making their sixth-straight showing in the Round of 16.
A total of six awards were given out on the evening including Newcomer of the Year, Most Inspirational Player, Coaches Award, Most Outstanding Offensive Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player and Most Valuable Player. All awards except for the Coaches Award were voted on by the student-athletes.
Senior attacker Kayla McCoy walked home with two awards, earning the squad’s Most Valuable Player honor, as well as being named Most Outstanding Player. Fellow senior Chelsea Burns received Most Outstanding Defensive Player laurels, while defender Delaney Graham was tabbed Newcomer of the Year. The trio of Mia Gyau, Kat McDonald and Mackenzie Coles were named Most Inspirational and Taylor Racioppi received the Coaches Award.
McCoy made the most of her final season with the Blue Devils, leading the team with 12 goals and 32 points, along with eight assists. Her goals total is tied for first in the ACC, while her 32 points are second. The All-ACC First Team selection went on a tear through the league slate, recording eight goals, a league high, and posting 19 points, good for second in the conference. McCoy, who recorded at least one point in all but six matches this season, also made strides up the DWS record book. The forward finished third with 15-career game-winning goals, fourth with 38 scores and 92 points and fifth with five multi-goal performances. She finished her career by being selected 18th overall by the Houston Dash in the 2019 NWSL College Draft.
Leading the Blue Devil backline in her final year in the Blue and White, Burns once again made her presence known to opposing offenses during the 2018 season. Her leadership was key in Duke racking up 11 clean sheets on the season, packing the squad to its eighth-straight appearance in the NCAA Round of 16. Burns finished her career with 95 games played, which was tied for third amongst active career leaders in the NCAA. The senior wrapped up her time at Duke a stud in the classroom as well, leaving with one CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team nod (2017), three ACC Honor Roll mentions (2016-18) and landing on the ACC All-Academic Team in 2017.
A native of Atlanta, Ga., Graham put together a fantastic rookie season on the Blue Devil backline, playing in all 22 matches with 21 starts and recording 1,826 minutes. Graham went the full time in 15 matches, cementing her spot as one of the pillars of a Duke defense that racked up 11 clean sheets this season. Of those 11, four came in ACC play, which is tied for seventh in the Duke record books. Graham also played a role in the Blue Devils’ offensive success, recording a pair of assists and her first-career goal in Duke’s NCAA Round of 16 showdown at No. 1 Georgetown.
Three Blue Devils were tabbed for the Most Inspirational Player award in 2018. Gyau saw time in three matches this season before once again falling victim to a season-ending injury like she did in 2017. Despite the setback, Gyau continued to be a leader on the sidelines, remaining a vocal presence for her team during games and practices while working day-in and day-out to get back on the playing field.
McDonald appeared in all 22 matches in 2018 as a starter, finishing the year with two goals and two assists in 1,839 minutes of play. The Raleigh, N.C., product shined as an example of what hard work and dedication to the game can get you, as she went from playing in 31 total games her first two years to starting in every match during her senior campaign.
The final recipient of the Most Inspirational Player honor, Coles wrapped up her junior season in Durham in 2018. A native of Wexford, Pa., Coles has been a crucial part to the Blue Devils success with her work in practices and relentless dedication to her teammates from the sidelines during games. Despite not seeing the field the previous two years, Coles continues to bring 100 percent in practice on a daily basis and works relentlessly to make those around her better both on and off the field.
A native of Ocean Township, N.J., Racioppi wrapped up her outstanding Blue Devil career with a memorable senior season, scoring a career-high nine goals and earning 20 points. Her nine scores finished tied for seventh in the league, with six of those goals came in ACC action. That total was third in the conference. The All-ACC Second Team selection also made waves on the national level this season, as her bending game-winning score at Clemson landed at No. 8 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays. On the career side, Racioppi finished her Blue Devil career with 221 shots taken, which stands sixth in DWS history.
Duke closed out its 31st year of play with 16 wins, fifth most in program history. The Blue Devils put together eight wins in ACC play to earn a second-place finish in the conference. Duke has finished in the top three in the league for the third-straight season, accumulating 25 conference wins for the best three-year stretch in ACC play in DWS history.
2018 Duke Women’s Soccer Awards
MVP – Kayla McCoy
Most Outstanding Offensive Player – Kayla McCoy
Most Outstanding Defensive Player – Chelsea Burns
Newcomer of the Year – Delaney Graham
Most Inspirational Player – Mia Gyau, Kat McDonald & Mackenzie Coles
Coaches Award – Taylor Racioppi