Duke Hits the Road for Wake Forest & Syracuse This Week... After playing four straight home contests, the 16th-ranked Duke women’s soccer team will hit the road for two ACC matches this week as the Blue Devils (4-3-1, 1-1-0 ACC) will play at Wake Forest (5-0-2, 1-0-1) on Thursday, Sept. 19 and at Syracuse (4-4-0, 0-2-0) on Sunday, Sept. 22 at 12 p.m. Thursday’s match at Wake Forest will be aired live on www.wakeforestsports.com with a video stream beginning at 7:00 p.m. Sunday’s match against Syracuse will now be played at 12 p.m., after originally being scheduled for 1 p.m. Duke will go up against its fourth top 10 opponent over the last five contests when it faces third-ranked Wake Forest on Thursday.
A Look at Wake Forest... Wake Forest enters Thursday with a 6-0-1 overall record and a 1-0-1 league mark under head coach Tony da Luz. The Demon Deacons have been led by Katie Stengel (5 goals, 6 assists), Riley Ridgik (4 goals) and Ally Berry (3 goals). WFU owns one of the top goalkeepers in the nation with Aubrey Bledsoe (0.54 goals-against average, 4 shutouts).
The Series with Wake Forest... Duke and Wake Forest will meet for the 27th time in school history with the Blue Devils holding a 14-8-4 overall lead in the series. Over the last 10 matches, WFU holds a 4-3-3 lead in the series. In games played in Winston-Salem, N.C., the series is tied, 4-4-1, but Wake Forest has totaled a 2-1-2 record versus the Blue Devils in the last five contests.
A Look at Syracuse... Syracuse goes into this week with a 4-4 record and will travel to Notre Dame on Thursday evening for a key road contest. The Orange has lost three straight matches and has been outscored 7-0 in those contests. On the season, Syracuse has been led by Erin Simon with four goals and 10 points.
The Series with Syracuse... Duke and Syracuse will meet for the first time in school history.
Challenging Schedule... Duke’s non-conference schedule was one of the toughest in the nation featuring four ranked opponents -- No. 6 UCLA, No. 8 South Carolina, No. 21 West Virginia and No. 20 Texas A&M.. The four ranked foes have combined for a 21-5-4 mark early this season.
DeCesare Heads Home... Blue Devil redshirt senior Kim DeCesare will head to her home state of New York this weekend for the match against Syracuse. It will mark the first time in college she has played a match in her home state. She is from Massapequa Park, N.Y., and it is seven hours away from Syracuse, N.Y.
Offense Breaks Out... The Blue Devils kept getting closer to breaking out of their offensive slump to open the season, but it finally happened on Sept. 12 against Miami with three second half goals. Duke notched three goals in a span of under 30 minutes to open ACC play. Freshman Toni Payne, senior Kaitlyn Kerr and junior Kelly Cobb each scored. Laura Weinberg leads the Blue Devils with 32 shots, while Kelly Cobb (28), Kim DeCesare (26), Kaitlyn Kerr (22) and Toni Payne (10) each have double-digit shot attempts. Cobb registered a career-high eight versus Miami.
Slow Scoring Start... After the Blue Devils posted a school-record 207 points a year ago, Duke opened the 2013 season with a slow start scoring five goals in the first six matches. The five goals in six matches was the lowest output in school history to start the year. The previous low was eight in 2005. Duke also had nine goals in six matches in 1996 and 1998.
In the NCAA Stats... After ranking in the top 10 of most of the offensive categories last year, Duke opened at 229th in scoring offense in the first NCAA stats release of the 2013 campaign and is now 209th with a 1.13 scoring offense. The Blue Devils are 63rd in goals-against average (0.73), including a No. 71 listing by goalkeeper Ali Kershner (0.744). Wake Forest is 50th in scoring offense (2.29) and 32nd in goals-against average (0.541). Katie Stengel ranks 20th in points (2.29) and eighth in assists per game (0.86). Syracuse is 164th in scoring offense (1.38).
Solid Defense... In eight matches to open the season, the Duke defense has allowed only six goals and notched four shutouts. The four shutouts ranks tied for third in the ACC. The Blue Devil defense has featured as many as three rookies in back at times early on.
Kershner Playing Big for Blue Devils... Blue Devil redshirt sophomore Ali Kershner has been waiting for two years behind four-year starting keeper Tara Campbell to make her first start. Kershner was given the opportunity on Aug. 23 at 12th-ranked Texas A&M and made the most of her chance notching a shutout and three saves over 90 minutes. On Sept. 1 versus New Mexico, Kershner netted her second straight shutout in a 1-0 victory. She became the first Duke goalkeeper in school history to register two shutouts in her first two collegiate starts. She had her best performance against Miami with a career-high five saves, including a penalty kick save in the first half. Kershner now owns three shutouts and a 0.74 goals-against average. Her three shutouts ranks tied for third in the ACC. Kershner had played in five matches in 2012 prior to this season.
Duke Battling Injuries... The Blue Devils have had their share of injuries in 2013 as Duke has been without starters Cassie Pecht and Gilda Doria for the entire season, while also not having the services of potential starter Alex Straton. Since the season started, starting freshman midfielder Rebecca Quinn went down with a foot injury and starting defender Tabria Williford suffered a concussion. Both Pecht and Doria are likely to miss the entire season, while Quinn is expected to be out a few more weeks, Straton is out for the season, while Williford is could be ready this week. Doria have combined for 13 goals and 35 assists over their career.
Noting Duke... • All three of Duke’s losses have come on Sunday -- UCLA, South Carolina, Florida State. • Laura Weinberg ranks tied ninth in the ACC with three assist, which all have come over the last two matches. • Redshirt junior Meghan Thomas notched her first collegiate shutout against Kennesaw State and owns a 0.67 goals-against average in two matches in 2013. • Duke featured five freshmen starting against New Mexico, which is the second-most by any ACC squad this season. Clemson started seven freshmen in a recent match. • The Blue Devils scored a first half goal against New Mexico, which marked the first one of the season in the first stanza. Against Florida State, Duke scored its earliest goal of the season at the 18:16 mark of the first. • Duke has outshot its opponents in the opening eight matches by a 149-84 ledger. • Freshman Christina Gibbons leads Duke with 739 minutes played so far this season. She has seen action in all but one minute on the defensive end. • The Blue Devils feature tri-captains in 2013 with Kim DeCesare, Gilda Doria and Kaitlyn Kerr getting the nod from their teammates. • Duke returns 95.4 percent of its scoring from the 2012 season, including 62 of 65 goals scored. • Dating back to the 2011 campaign, 11 of the 12 Blue Devil losses have been by one goal. • Duke is coming off advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth time out of the last six years. • The Blue Devils welcome the 10th-ranked recruiting class in the nation.
Consecutive Starts... Senior defender Natasha Anasi owns a team-best 58-game consecutive starts streak. Over her career, Anasi has helped lead Duke to 36 shutouts on the defensive end. She is a two-time All-America and MAC Hermann Trophy watch list selection.
In the Rankings... Duke is No. 16 in the Soccer America and No. 18 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire ledger, while coming in at No. 23 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com poll. Wake Forest is No. 6 in the NSCAA poll, No. 3 in the Soccer America and No. 8 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com listing. Syracuse is not ranked.
Weinberg Moving Up Career Charts... Senior Laura Weinberg netted three assists last week to move into sole possession of third on Duke’s all-time points list (89). She also moved into a tie for sixth on the assist list (21). Weinberg totaled a career-high 16 goals and 12 assists in 2012 and is only 29 points away from matching the Duke career points mark of 117 held by Kelly Walbert. She is 13 goals away from tying Walbert’s career goals mark of 47 as well.
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