Based on number of shots alone, it would appear as though the women's soccer team has blown out all of its opponents in 2005.
In each of five regular-season games so far this year, the Blue Devils struck at least fifteen balls at the opposing net. None of their opponents managed more than seven. Overall, Duke holds an 85-21 advantage in the shooting category.
Yet the Blue Devils have only beaten one of their opponents by a margin of more than one goal, as they squeezed their way to a 4-0-1 start. And that win was a 2-0 victory over an average Davidson team nearly two weeks ago.
So why have the game scores appeared so much closer than the matches actually were?
It is not for a lack of shooting, or quality shooting for that matter. The majority of Duke's scoring opportunities have been created by good passing and crossing. It has been a rare occasion when a Blue Devil midfielder pulled the trigger on a low percentage shot from outside the 18-yard box.
The opposing goalies have not been crucial in keeping the ball out of the net either.
"We've made a lot of goalies look like they're All Americans," Duke head coach Robbie Church said.
For the Blue Devil offense, the problem seems to be serving what Church likes to call the "last ball"-the pass that, when made, sets up another player for an easy scoring opportunity. Any number of things can ruin the last ball such as an extra dribble or a defender's deflection, for example.
Duke may have an easier time making the final pass against UAB Friday due to the return of attacking defender Kate Seibert. The senior, who has missed the team's first five games after having arthroscopic surgery on her left ankle, scored three goals and tallied seven as a junior. Known for her good touch on the ball and knack for scoring goals, Seibert gives Duke an added dimension when working the ball out of the backfield. Church also plans to use her as a forward to complement freshman Christie McDonald on the front line.
"She's a very good finisher. She doesn't need many chances to score goals," Church said of Seibert.
Having a target player who can both score and distribute the ball will allow Duke to use an "up, back and through" pattern on offense that should open up the opposing defense and create shots for the other forwards, Church said.
Outside of Seibert's return, Church has focused on building the rest of the team's ability to finish scoring chances during in practice by having them attack the goal with shots from about five yards. Church added, however, that his team has good finishers and that he is not concerned about the lack of scoring because his team is getting shots.
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"The goals will come," Church said.