The Women's 2005 Duke/adidas classic was a tale of two games for the Blue Devils. After sputtering to a 1-0 victory in the opening match against Alabama-Birmingham, Sept. 16, the Duke offense finally broke through and the Blue Devils beat San Diego, 5-0, Sunday.
Over the first five games of the season, Duke had trouble finishing its scoring opportunities-netting just seven goals. Friday night was no different.
With 4:03 left in No. 7 Duke's match against UAB (3-5-0), Kate Seibert's bending corner kick squirted through the goalkeeper's hands, and the home crowd of 950 let out its collective breath. The goal ensured a 1-0 Duke victory in a game heavily dominated by the Blue Devils (6-0-1).
"I didn't really feel like we had been challenging the goalie that well so I just tried to drive the ball right at her and it happened to slip through her hands and into the goal," senior defender Seibert said. "It worked out well."
Seibert made her 2005 regular season debut in the 22nd minute after missing the first five matches of the season while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on her left ankle. Seibert led the team with six shots and netted her tenth career goal.
Although in control of the game from the opening minute by keeping possession in the attacking third, the Blue Devils showed more patience and moved the ball better in the second period. Duke's second half intensity was evident in the lopsided shooting statistics. The Blazers did not have a shot on goal in the second half and was outshot 23-4 overall.
UAB had trouble possessing the ball and keeping up with a more athletic Duke team. The Blazers looked like they were playing for a tie, trying to quickly clear the ball, making frantic runs and taking shots from outside the box.
"We try to keep positive and realize that we are dominating, and that that goal has to come eventually if we keep creating quality opportunities," senior defender Carolyn Ford said. "It's frustrating; it's really frustrating, but you can't let that get to you during the game."
Although they only tallied one goal, the Blue Devils were knocking on the door all night and finished with eight corner kicks. Following Friday night's match, Church noted his desire for players to step up.
"We need a little more heart from the players," Church said. "We are serving balls into the box and somebody's got to make the decision that they want to take that responsibility and get on the end of the ball."
The Blue Devils responded Sunday with their largest offensive output of the season, lighting up the scoreboard with five goals from five different players to beat San Diego (2-5).
Midfielder Rebecca Moros was the first to strike for the Blue Devils, 19:51 into the game, when she received a short corner kick from fellow midfielder Lauren Tippets and blasted a shot into the top right corner from 25 yards out.
Duke tallied another pair of goals in a stretch of just under two minutes to stretch the Blue Devil lead to 3-0 at the half. Midfielder Darby Kroyer converted on a penalty shot at 29:30 and Ford managed to punch in a goal from a scramble in front of the net at 31:21.
"It was just a matter of time," Moros said. "I think we were knocking the whole season and it takes a little time to get a rhythm. We've got new people up top. We've got a new system. We've got people just learning each other and it's all going to start falling together now."
Despite the offense's Jekyll and Hyde ways, the Blue Devil defense was brilliant all weekend, posting its fourth and fifth shutouts of the season. Over the two games, goalkeeper Allison Lipsher notched 144 scoreless minutes and was named the tournament's defensive MVP.
"I knew the goals were going to come if we just stayed focused and we just kept working hard," Church said. "We've been playing well and I thought we played well again today. I thought we took it intensely though. I thought we went up a notch that we had."
North Carolina won the tournament on total goals; scoring seven times to better the Blue Devils' total of six goals. The Tar Heels topped San Diego, 3-0, Friday, and beat UAB, 4-0, Sunday.
Dave McMullen contributed to this story.
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