Coming off a 4-1 win at William and Mary, Duke held its home opener in a damp Koskinen Stadium looking to get its second win of the weekend.
Playing against an Elon team, which started a non-goalie between the pipes, the No. 2 Blue Devils were able to do just that, recording an 8-0 victory against a hapless Phoenix defense.
“I feel bad for Elon,” Duke head coach Robbie Church said. “They have a number of injuries. They have a field player in goal. Their two goalkeepers were out.”
The inexperience of Catherine Brinkman, the Phoenix goalie, was apparent as many of the goals were a result of her mistakes. But it would have taken a heroic performance from her to stop the Blue Devils (2-0-0), who controlled the game from start to finish, tallying 32 shots while allowing only one by Elon (0-1-1), which was not on target.
Duke’s assault began early, with two minutes barely on the clock, when junior Kaitlyn Kerr latched onto a defense-splitting through ball from Kim DeCesare to put the Blue Devils ahead.
Laura Weinberg then set up Gilda Doria, before DeCesare would register the first of her two goals, placing Duke 3-0 ahead at the half.
“We worked hard as a team,” DeCesare said. “We achieved our goals and we felt good about it.”
Weinberg then got on the scoresheet with two quick strikes after the break. These were quite fortunate, with one deflecting off a defender and the other squirming under the body of Brinkman. DeCesare then completed her pair of goals, before sophomore Katie Trees capped off the scoring with two goals within the space of eight minutes.
The Blue Devils’ control of the game allowed every single member of their roster to play, even playing all three goalkeepers.
“That’s two games in a row that we’ve been able to get everybody in,” Church said. “It’s great. These are big minutes for a lot of players. They can come back and help us down the road. We kept our intensity, and we kept our work rate up the whole time, and it was a good weekend for us.”
DeCesare, who collected a career-high six points from her two goals and two assists in the game, is playing in a more advanced role than in previous seasons.
“I love it,” she said. “I just think as long as I’m getting some time I’m happy. So wherever I need to be, that’s where I adapt to.”
The Blue Devils are missing two key players from last season in Kelly Cobb and Mollie Pathman, who began play this weekend for the U-20 US national team.
Church, however, is glad players are stepping up to fill that void and not making excuses about their absence.
While it was important for key figures from last season to do so, with Kerr, Weinberg, Doria and DeCesare influencing the game, Church was impressed with the impact of the other players, singling out Trees and freshman Cassie Pecht for their performance over the weekend.
“[Pecht’s] a great little player,” Church said. “She’s tricky, she runs at players…. She’s going to see a lot of minutes here at Duke.”
The Blue Devils will continue their season against tougher competition, starting with a game against Montreal Friday before playing Florida Sunday.
“Twelve goals… we probably lead the nation,” Church said. “I don’t know if that’ll keep up.”