No. 9 Duke stifled a late comeback attempt Sunday despite giving up a goal in the 87th minute that brought Saint Louis (4-2) to within a single shot of tying the game.
The Blue Devil defense maintained its composure while the Billikens searched for a big play in the waning seconds, and Duke (4-0-1) held on for a 2-1 victory Sunday at Robert R. Hermann Stadium in St. Louis.
"They were driving longer balls into our half of the field, but you have to weather the storm after a goal," Duke head coach Robbie Church said.
Leading 2-0 with less than four minutes to play, the Duke defense experienced a momentary lapse when a Saint Louis midfielder chipped a pass from the right flank to an unmarked Cassi Winchell on the far side.
The sophomore controlled the pass inside the 18-yard box and evaded the charging Allison Lipsher, Duke's goalie, with a touch to the side. She then shot the ball into the open net, ending Duke's streak of three straight shut outs.
Duke dominated play for the majority of the first half and finally capitalized on a scoring opportunity in the 28th minute. Senior Carolyn Riggs trapped a Saint Louis punt and passed the ball to forward Sarah McCabe who dribbled by her defender and drove a shot far post for a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later, the Billikens had a chance to tie the game on a free kick from just inside half field, but Saint Louis forward Caroline Sweeny headed the feed wide of the left post.
Coming out of halftime with a one-goal lead, the Blue Devils hoped to score quickly in order to put the game away.
"We wanted to kill their spirit. We wanted to score the next goal because we knew the next goal would win the game," said senior Carolyn Ford.
Less than six minutes into the second half, Duke achieved its goal. Junior Lauren Tippets sent a corner kick sailing by the far post that the Billiken defense had trouble clearing. As the ball squirted through the goal box, the Saint Louis goalie tried to grab it, but Ford got to it first. The senior poked the ball into the net to extend the Blue Devil lead to 2-0.
The Billikens threatened to score shortly after when Dee Guempel's pass split a pair of defenders and gave Winchell an open shot from 16 yards out. Lipsher, however, deflected the ball over the net for one of her three saves.
Duke then contained the Saint Louis offense until the final minutes, limiting the Billikens to three second-half shots. The Blue Devils outshot Saint Louis 17-5 for the game.
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The Blue Devils will look to stay undefeated when they host UAB and San Diego in the Duke/adidas Classic this weekend.