Duke’s grip on the postseason continues to slip after a loss to Boston College.
After defeating the Eagles in every matchup since 2010, the Blue Devils fell 4-1 to Boston College in Newton Soccer Stadium Sunday in Newton, Mass. Duke allowed four goals in a game for the first time this season and now has dropped four conference matches.
“It was a pretty even game, except they scored their goals and we didn’t score ours,” head coach Robbie Church said.
Forward Stephanie McCaffrey scored three of the Eagles’ four tallies. She completed her hat trick with a 1-on-1 drive to the goal, chipping the ball safely into the net past goalkeeper Ali Kershner and sealing the win for Boston College (7-6, 4-4 in the ACC). Teammate and reigning ACC Player of the Week McKenzie Meehan was the first player from either team to score, netting a penalty kick in the 21st minute to put Duke (4-6-3, 1-4-2) behind early.
Along with a strong opponent, the Blue Devils faced unfavorable conditions—the game was played on a turf field, an unfamiliar surface for the team, compounded by intense rainfall before the start of the game.
“It was a difficult game, no question about it,” Church said. “I thought we handled the environment well, and we really created some good opportunities.”
Duke’s only goal came three minutes after halftime. A cross by newly-returned midfielder Rebecca Quinn from the end line placed the ball perfectly at the far post. Senior Laura Weinberg was able to touch the ball past goalkeeper Alex Johnson’s hands and cut Duke's deficit to 2-1. Weinberg’s goal marks her third in five games.
“We came out in the second half, and I thought we attacked well from the beginning,” Church said. “Laura did a great job of finishing that goal.”
One bright spot in Duke’s loss was Kershner's performance. The redshirt sophomore had a career-high eight saves in the game. Before Sunday’s game, Kershner was already ranked fourth in the ACC in saves per game. Church said his goalkeeper played very well, despite Boston College’s strong attackers.
Earlier in the week, Church said many of Duke's defensive struggles were the result of injuries that have shifted starters into new positions and brought bench players into the starting lineup.
With this loss and a record still below .500, the Blue Devils have a tough turnaround if they hope to qualify for postseason play. All of the remaining regular season games are conference matches for Duke, including tilts with No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 6 North Carolina.
The Blue Devils are now winless in their last six contests and have not notched a victory since Sept. 12 when the team topped Miami 3-0. Duke’s road does not get any easier, as the team prepares to hit the road next weekend for a trip to College Park to take on Maryland.
“The door is closing. Obviously we’re definitely not out of it,” Church said. “The bottom line is we’re not winning games, so we have to—the door is closing quickly, and we have to win.”