Racioppi returns, scores to help Duke women's soccer top Clemson in exhibition
After missing the final 12 games of last season due to a lower leg injury, it did not take long for Taylor Racioppi to make an impact in 2017.
The junior midfielder drew a foul in the box that set up a successful penalty kick from Chelsea Burns and Racioppi then scored a goal of her own to lead No. 12 Duke to a 2-1 win in its lone exhibition game. Facing No. 13 Clemson on the road at Historic Riggs Field Friday evening, the Blue Devils held on after the pair of early breakthroughs thanks to a strong defensive performance, only allowing two shots on goal.
“We were very organized defensively. We pressed fairly well, and then when we didn’t press, we were all on the same page,” Duke head coach Robbie Church said. “We pretty much snuffed out most of their attack.”
The Blue Devils struck first less than four minutes into the match and then doubled their lead about midway through the first half, with Racioppi scoring from 10 yards out off an assist from senior Imani Dorsey.
Tiger midfielder Jeni Erickson headed home a corner to put the Tigers on the board a few minutes later, and the score remained unchanged for the last 56:53 of the contest.
“We made a mistake on the goal,” Church said. “We gave a set play, which is something we actually have been trying to work on early, and we’ve just got to do a better job on set plays.”
Racioppi was not the only key Duke player injured at the end of last season—Rebecca Quinn was sidelined after battling turf toe and Kayla McCoy had a torn Achilles—but all three were ready for the start of practice this summer.
Quinn started at midfield, playing 68 minutes, and Church said McCoy had to miss the game to attend a wedding, but will rejoin the team by the end of the weekend. Aside from McCoy, sophomore Ella Stevens was the only other returning contributor to sit out Friday. Church noted that she is dealing with a lower back injury, but is hopeful she can return to the field soon.
The absences allowed the Blue Devils to give several newcomers a chance to see the field. Church used 19 players in total—seven different players recorded at least one shot and Duke had six shots on goal, but Clemson goalkeeper Melanie Stiles recorded four saves to minimize the damage.
“Legitimately, we could have scored four or five goals,” Church said. “The goalkeeper made some good saves, but when we play good balls and have good runs and good balls, we’ve just got to finish a little better.”
Minding Duke’s own net, redshirt freshman Brooke Heinsohn started and played the first half, making one save and allowing the goal before senior E.J. Proctor played the second half without facing a shot on target.
Proctor has started 48 straight matches for the Blue Devils and has recorded the fourth-most shutouts in school history, but will have to fight to keep the job this year. Heinsohn is one of the top young goalkeepers in the nation and was away from the team last season while she competed for the U.S. in the U-20 World Cup.
“We’re deep at that position, as deep as we’ve ever been at the goalkeeper position at Duke since I’ve been here the last 17 years,” Church said.
The Blue Devils will kick off the regular season next Friday evening against No. 6 North Carolina in the UNC Nike Classic at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. It will be the only meeting of the regular season between the two rivals.