Blue Devils upset Bulldogs to advance to sweet 16

Even as Duke struggled earlier in the year, Elisabeth Redmond remained confident that the Blue Devils would be able to do damage in the NCAA tournament.

With that statement, it's only fitting that it was the sophomore forward and Duke's leading scorer who netted the game-winning goal in the Blue Devils' 1-0 upset of third-seeded Georgia Sunday in Athens, Ga.

Redmond's score came in the 71st minute of a scoreless tie and sent Duke (9-5-7) on to the sweet sixteen of the NCAA College Cup. Defender Kelly McCann made a great run down the right side of the field and found Redmond at the corner of the 18-yard box. Bulldogs' goalkeeper Michelle Betos got a hand on the ball, but Redmond's left-footed strike into the upper left corner of the goal was too powerful and put the Blue Devils up 1-0.

"As soon as she turned and lined up to kick it, I knew it was going in," McCann said.

The goal highlighted a strong stretch of play for Duke during the second half. Georgia (18-4-2) took control of the game early on, outshooting the Blue Devils and taking five more corner kicks in the first half, but Duke responded effectively and was able to maintain possession for the remainder of the contest.

"We definitely got caught back on our field because they came out really hard," Redmond said. "I think right after that, we calmed down and adjusted really well. We started to find feet and pretty much kept the ball for the rest of the game."

The win against Georgia followed a penalty kick shootout in the Blue Devils' opening-round match against South Carolina (14-6-3). Despite the Gamecocks entering the game with a higher ranking, Duke emerged as the aggressor, scoring first and taking six more shots.

"We came out really strong," Redmond said. "We established our pace in that game, and it was hard for them to come back."

Although the Blue Devils seemed to dominate for the majority of the contest, they found themselves tied at one after regulation and heading to overtime for the fifth time in seven matches.

Due to the high number of games in which the team played extra periods, head coach Robbie Church actually had the players start practicing penalty kicks early on in the season. As a result, Duke cruised in the shootout, winning 4-1.

"Everyone had a lot of confidence going into the shootout, just because we've practiced it so much," senior goalkeeper Allison Lipsher said.

After a regular season in which the Blue Devils had been competitive with some of the best teams in the country but were often unable to swing a positive result, it was exciting for the team to get two consecutive big wins.

"Throughout the season, we've played with a lot of heart and passion," McCann said. "It's finally paying off."

The players also believe that the difficulties they have encountered fielding a young lineup in the toughest conference in the nation have made them more resilient and will help extend their run through the tournament.

"We never give up," Redmond said. "We've always come back, and that's helped us in these games that are single elimination because we're going to go down with a fight."


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