In a repeat of last year’s national tournament semifinal, then-No. 5 Duke (11-3-2, 5-2-2 in the ACC) and then-No. 12 Wake Forest (10-3-3, 4-2-1) fought to a 1-1 draw Sunday in Koskinen Stadium.
Wearing pink for breast cancer awareness, the Blue Devils set out to play their attacking game and breach the Demon Deacon defense, which had only conceded nine goals prior to the game. Duke was able to do just that as Kim DeCesare notched her 11th goal of the season late in the second half to erase the deficit from Katie Stengel’s first half penalty.
“I thought we played well in spurts,” Duke head coach Robbie Church said to GoDuke.com. “We have to play better under pressure and make better decisions. I thought in the first half we played really well until the final third. Then in the final third we were not dangerous and dynamic enough.”
The Blue Devils controlled much of the early play and took six of the first seven shots of the game. DeCesare almost opened the scoring 20 minutes in, but her shot instead bounced back off the post.
Nearing the end of the first half, Duke committed a foul in the box, and Stengel stepped up calmly to convert the penalty kick past goalkeeper Tara Campbell. The Demon Deacons held the 1-0 lead for the remainder of the first half.
The Blue Devils started the second half in the same way they did the first, peppering Audrey Bledsoe’s goal but unable to make the breakthrough. After 70 minutes and still chasing the game, Church substituted a forward for defender Libby Jandl. A few minutes later this pressure paid off.
Junior midfielder Kaitlyn Kerr passed the ball to Laura Weinberg, the ACC’s leading scorer, on the wing. Weinberg took a few touches before placing a beautiful cross to an on-rushing DeCesare, who powered a header past Bledsoe.
“Laura got the ball out wide, sent in a stellar cross and I was able to get a head on it,” DeCesare said. “We felt it coming as we were playing very well.”
DeCesare, who was named ACC player of the week, had a game-high five shots with four on target.
Wake Forest threatened to regain the lead with a header of its own off a corner, but Jackie Logue’s header was cleared off the line by freshman Cassie Pecht.
“Cassie has made so many great offensive plays during the year,” Church said. “Then she is in the right spot to make a big-time play. She is a two-way player and has been since day one for us. That is one of the reasons she has been on the field so much for us. I think she is one of the top freshmen in the country.”
Duke continued to attack and as regulation time ended had 14 shots to the Demon Deacon’s seven. The two overtime periods saw the Blue Devils dominate the first period and Wake Forest dominate the second, with Campbell recording two saves to preserve the score.
“When we create chances for ourselves, we have to finish,” DeCesare said. “We’re going to continue to work on that and hopefully score more off the chances we give ourselves.”
The draw leaves Duke in third place in the conference, and the result of Thursday’s game against North Carolina could determine whether the Blue Devils will host a quarterfinal game or not.
“Wake Forest is a very good team. They always come out and play us to the best of their abilities,” DeCesare said. “We’re a little bit disappointed, but it’s not the worst.”