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Blue Devil women's soccer ties Louisville in first ACC meeting

Despite several good looks, freshman Imani Dorsey and the Blue Devil offense could not find the back of the net against Louisville Friday.
Despite several good looks, freshman Imani Dorsey and the Blue Devil offense could not find the back of the net against Louisville Friday.

A slow start and hot second half were not enough, as the Blue Devils failed to find the back of the net for the second straight game.

In its first ever ACC matchup, Duke tied Louisville 0-0 Friday night at Koskinen Stadium, despite outshooting the Cardinals 15-8 in the game. With the draw, the Blue Devils remain in the four-spot in the ACC while Louisville fell into the nine-spot.

“It’s our opening home ACC match, so it’s disappointing for sure that we had a tie,” head coach Robbie Church said. “Every game has its moments…we were not ready for them.”

One of those moments came 18 minutes into the first half, when freshman Imani Dorsey—who ranks second in the ACC in shots during conference games this season—hit a sliding attempt in the box just wide of the left goalpost. In the 36th minute, Duke’s Krysia Sikora sent a cross straight for Katie Trees at the six-yard box, only for it to be caught by Cardinal goalie Paige Brown.

Other than those two chances, though, Louisville (5-5-3, 1-1-2 in the ACC) outplayed Duke (6-5-1, 2-1-1) in the first half, outshooting the Blue Devils 5-4 and dominating the home team physically 8-2 in fouls. The Cardinals nearly found the back of the net in the 30th minute when—off a corner kick—Erin Yenney headed the ball straight for the goal. Standing on the goal line, though, Dorsey miraculously headed the ball back out to keep the shutout intact and deny Louisville its best opportunity of the night.

After what Church considered a “disappointing” first half, Duke found more opportunities throughout the next 45 minutes, with an impressive transition offense earning free kicks, corner kicks and scoring opportunities from within the box. The Blue Devils fired four shots within the first 12 minutes of the half. None, however, came close.

“Imani [Dorsey] played really well starting in the second half, and the moment for us was about a 10-minute play in the second half that we were just all over them,” Church said. “We were attacking much more with a purpose in the second half than we did in the first half.”

Duke’s offense seemed to filter through the freshman striker Dorsey, coupled with strong performances by Kelly Cobb, Toni Payne and Christina Gibbons. In the 79th minute, Gibbons steamrolled through the defense on a counterattack, found an open look on the right side of the box, but whipped it wide left in Duke’s best second half opportunity.

After a scoreless 90 minutes, it was more of the same for the Blue Devils in overtime. Duke outshot Louisville 4-1 in the two 15-minute extra sessions, but could not capitalize as the scoreless match drew to a close.

“Give Louisville credit. I thought they also played a very good game,” Church said. “They scouted us very well, and they doubled us in a lot of positions out there. I thought they worked really, really hard.”

Part of that hard work came in the form of physical play, as Louisville players went down four times. In the second half, junior Hannah Konerman needed to be carried off the field after sustaining a leg injury. It may have been ACC Sportsmanship Week, but under the magenta sunset and later moonlit night sky, Louisville fans were all over head referee Jeff Davis.

For the Blue Devils, an unmistakable highlight had to be the defense, as goalkeeper Ali Kershner—now boasting six shutouts this season—posted her third in the past four games.

“The defense has really risen to the challenge early in the year,” Church said. “It’s not just the back line, or the goalkeepers, it’s team defending... And that’s what we did… Unfortunately it ends up as a 0-0 tie.”

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