The independent news organization of Duke University

SPORTS  |  SOCCER

Canepa, Cobb lead Duke past Florida State

Chelsea Canepa played a Molly Lester cross into the back of the net for her second goal of the season.
Chelsea Canepa played a Molly Lester cross into the back of the net for her second goal of the season.

When opposing the best teams in the country, the wins are in the details. Duke didn’t open with its best play on Sunday, but a series of successful adjustments led to a hotly-contested 2-1 victory over Florida State at Koskinen Stadium. The win gets the No. 5 Blue Devils (9-1, 1-0 in the ACC) off to their best start in school history.

Duke’s opening was not auspicious, as the No. 3 Seminoles (7-3, 0-2) surprised the Blue Devil defense with their early-game strategy. Florida State’s energy level was also notable, as they came out with something to prove after being upset by Wake Forest in its ACC opener last week.

“We thought they were going to come out in one formation, and they came out in another,” head coach Robbie Church said. “We were off our marks early, we were behind, we were slow closing players down, and they were able to string some connecting passes together.”

Church credits his players, though, for orchestrating the necessary adjustments to put a halt to Florida State’s early offensive success.

“We had to scramble to move ourselves around,” Church said. “It’s not like basketball where I can call a timeout and bring everybody over, and we can correct it. They had to do it themselves.”

Three first-half saves from Tara Campbell helped buoy the defensive unit, and as the Duke back line adjusted, momentum began to shift. The Blue Devils sustained increasing pressure on the Seminole net, with shots on goal from Laura Weinberg and Kaitlyn Kerr.

The next wave of changes came from the sideline as Church went to his bench with just under 12 minutes left on the clock in the first half. He sent four substitutes into the game, and the boost came instantly.

Six minutes into the new shift, one of the reserves came up big. Molly Lester played a cross through traffic in front of the goal, and senior Chelsea Canepa guided it into the left corner of the net.

“What a lift our bench gave us,” Church said. “Absolute energy. They came in and sprinted, ran, scrapped, got the goal. Almost got another goal.”

The critical tally was Canepa’s second of the year from her reserve role.

“I wholeheartedly believe in the forwards that we have out there starting,” she said. “Those are amazing players, and I know that when I come in, I just have to keep the level up, and that’s my job.”

The Blue Devils were able to keep the offensive pressure on into the second half. Freshman Kelly Cobb ripped shots on consecutive possessions from outside the 18-yard box, showing off her skills with both feet. With 20 minutes left, though, Florida State began kicking its offense into gear.

“If we had made [the lead] two, we would’ve broken their spirits,” Church said. “But then obviously the last 20 minutes, they’re going to push. They’re down a goal, they’re pushing, they’re throwing numbers forward. We’re having to defend, we’re coming out of shape some.”

Campbell added two more saves in the second half, including a fantastic on-the-fly interception of a corner kick bound for a Seminole header. The Duke defense held strong during the Florida State onslaught, but Church still thinks his team can improve late in games.

“I think we could do some things better when we’re ahead at the end of the match... kill the clock a little bit better, and work on some time management things,” Church said.

But with under two minutes left on the clock, Kelly Cobb added the second goal that Church wanted.

Cobb took a cross from the left corner and beat the Florida State goalkeeper, but the shot ricocheted off the post from close range. With the goalie on the ground and the Seminole defense in disarray, Cobb recovered her own miss and put it in off a defender.

Cobb has now scored in six of the last eight games.

The insurance proved to be key, as Florida State regrouped quickly and put a shot past Campbell just 40 seconds later to make the score 2-1.

Duke was able to run out the last minute of play, though, to earn a win in its conference opener over a highly-touted opponent. But while Church and his squad will certainly want to remember the details that helped them garner such a difficult victory, they’ll be working to forget the result.

“You have to have short memories in college soccer,” Church said. “We have to move on.”

Discussion

Share and discuss “Canepa, Cobb lead Duke past Florida State” on social media.