Seminoles held in draw

Freshman goalkeeper Tara Campbell made eight saves as the Blue Devils played No. 5 Florida State to a scoreless tie Sunday.
Freshman goalkeeper Tara Campbell made eight saves as the Blue Devils played No. 5 Florida State to a scoreless tie Sunday.

Coming off of its worst loss of the season to Maryland, the Blue Devils looked to bounce back and come away with a solid performance against a formidable opponent.

Although they could not come away with the win, Duke responded very well with a 0-0 tie in double overtime against No. 5 FSU.

Historically, Florida State (10-2-1, 3-1-1 in the ACC) has not performed well at Koskinen Stadium, where it is 1-4-3 all time. Sunday’s performance was no different, as the draw gave Duke (4-5-4, 0-2-2) a much needed morale boost in the midst of its grueling ACC schedule.

“I thought they worked really hard today,” head coach Robbie Church said. “This time last week we were on this field, and we got embarrassed by Maryland. We really challenged [the team] all week and gave them some time off and they responded very well. They responded with a really good effort.”

The first half was a struggle for possession. Neither team displayed great chemistry up front. After 45 minutes, Duke had only recorded three shots, despite averaging 18.7 strikes per game entering the contest. The Blue Devils’ first legitimate chance didn’t come until the end of the half, when a ball was deflected to freshman Nicole Lipp. She quickly trapped the ball and shot to the far corner for a sure goal, but a Florida State defender was able to kick the ball off the goal line.   

The most important tactical adjustment coming into the game was Church’s decision to move from a 4-3-3 formation to a 4-4-2 to slow down Florida State’s high-octane offense, led by forwards Tiffany McCarty and Jessica Price who have a combined 18 goals this season. The result was a phenomenal defensive performance by the Blue Devils—in the first half, McCarty and Price had no shots.  

“We were obviously very concerned with their two front-runners,” Church said. “They’ve got a lot of pace. One’s got ten goals and one’s got eight…. Overall, we did a good job of making them work and making their looks difficult.”

In the second half and through two overtimes, the great defensive play continued. Anchored by Maddy Haller and Gretchen Miller, the Blue Devils contested every shot on goal and were very organized. The play of the back four, however, would have been meaningless without the performance of freshman goalkeeper Tara Campbell. In the final minutes of regulation, she made a spectacular save from point-blank range.  

“This is the first time we’ve been able to see her play after a subpar performance, and I was very impressed,” Church said. “She was able to come off that bad performance and play great against a top-notch team.”

On the other side of the ball, the offense showed much more cohesion later in the match, as the Blue Devils strung together passes and created solid counterattacks. With two minutes left in the second half, defender Gretchen Miller received a ball at the top of the box, and had a straight shot on goal that was deflected out.

Although the formation change was successful in earning a result, Duke’s season-long struggle to score goals was once again an issue. The Blue Devils recorded only three shots on goal, failing to score for the third game in a row, and Church attributed the offense’s struggles in part to learning on the fly.

“We are not the fastest team, and we had the ideas, but we didn’t have the pace to get behind it,” Church said. “Our attack has to be slower and it has to build as a group. It makes it tough, instead of one pass and we’re through, we have to make two or three. But later in the game, we found a center player and then we found the outside player, and we started to attack.”

Nevertheless, Duke has to feel heartened with its much-improved performance, and will look look to maintain the same level of intensity as it goes forward this season.


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