Duke’s offensive potential has been highly touted throughout the season and it was certainly on display Sunday as the Blue Devils wrapped up regular season play with a non-conference match. After an offensive barrage against Francis Marion, Duke feels confident heading into the ACC tournament.
The No. 6 Blue Devils (12-3-1) defeated the Patriots (6-9-1) 4-0 at Koskinen Stadium Sunday afternoon. Duke controlled possession throughout the game, capitalizing four times on 37 shot attempts to earn the win. From the opening play, the Blue Devils commanded the flow of the match in Patriot territory.
Duke scored the lone goal of the first half in the sixth minute off the head of midfielder Kaitlyn Kerr, who scored her fifth goal of the season off a powerful cross from freshman midfielder Cassie Pecht.
“What I’ve been trying to work on more is getting the ball more and getting involved in attack,” Kerr said. “I’m trying to be a playmaker, that’s what I am, [and] that’s what I do. I haven’t been as involved as I like but this is a great start to the postseason for me and for the team.”
The Blue Devils relied on unselfish play from their attacking players, especially in the second half, to score the team’s four goals.
Midfielder Kim DeCesare and forward Laura Weinberg continued to feed off each other and tied the Duke single-season record for a goal-scoring duo with 27 combined goals, on a header from DeCesare. Forward Kelly Cobb also scored her first goal of the season on a through ball from Pecht, who had two assists in the match, with a scorching shot in the upper corner of the net. The final goal came off the foot of Katy Colas, who was assisted by both Mollie Pathman and Callie Simpkins.
“I think we’ve been getting better and better,” Kerr said. “In the beginning we started off playing more as individuals, but as the season has progressed we have definitely gotten into a team mindset more. We’re prepared for the postseason and we’re looking forward to it.”
Duke, despite notching 13 fewer shots than in the first half, created more quality goal-scoring opportunities in the second half and converted three of them.
“We had three nice goals in the second half,” said head coach Robbie Church. “I thought we were more dangerous in the second half. We had better movement off the ball overall. That’s what we’ve got to do as we move forward into the ACC tournament. We have opportunities, but we’ve got to find people with better opportunities.”
Church stressed to his team the importance of unselfish play that characterized Sunday’s match for the Blue Devils going into the postseason.
“The main thing I think is we have to keep sharing the ball,” Church said. “We’ve got to keep passing the ball and play unselfishly by taking unselfish crosses and shots. We’re in good shape going into the tournament. I’m very excited for this team.”