Following an undefeated home stand, the Blue Devils took their winning ways on the road.
On a humid Sunday afternoon, No. 4 Duke (11-1, 3-0 in the ACC) held the powerful Clemson (5-5, 0-3) offense in check, defeating the Tigers 2-0 at Historic Riggs Fields for the Blue Devils’ first true road win of the season—and seventh-straight overall.
Duke started the game immediately on the attack, earning three corner kicks within the first 15 minutes. Sophomore Gilda Doria found junior Nicole Lipp on the third corner, and Lipp’s header gave the Blue Devils a 1-0 lead. The well-executed set play, though, was one of the few bright spots in the first half.
Head coach Robbie Church was not impressed with his team’s execution in the opening period.
“We didn’t do a really good job of keeping the ball [in the first half],” Church said. “We didn’t do a good job of defending as a whole or defending collectively. We had a much more heated half time talk than we have had in a while.”
The Blue Devils responded to Church’s halftime criticism with an inspired defensive effort in the second half, stopping the traditionally strong Clemson offense. The Tigers, who had outscored their opponents 25-16 on the year, were held without a shot on goal throughout the entire second half.
“We defended really well [in the second half],” Church said. “We outshot them eighteen to nothing. We were much more dynamic with our runs and with our dribbles.”
As the game moved toward the end of the second half, the Blue Devils maintained pressure on the Clemson defense. Controlling possession throughout the period, sophomore Laura Weinberg added an insurance goal in the 74th minute with a left-footed effort that found the top-left corner of the goal.
Despite his team’s first-half struggles, Church was particularly pleased with the way the team responded to their struggles early in their first conference road game of the season, and their first matchup away from Koskinen Stadium in nearly a month.
“Sometimes there is so much happening on campus it’s nice to be able to go on the road with your teammates,” Church said. “Our chemistry has been terrific all year and that starts with the quality of the kids we have in our program.”
Despite the current winning streak, Church still expects improvement. Making several substitutions throughout the game, the Blue Devils focused on adding experience to a young roster. With four of the last seven games away from home, Church emphasized the importance of putting together consistent and balanced efforts as the team prepares for the remainder of the conference schedule.
“We need to start putting these two halves together,” Church said. “We need to play to our full potential.”