After tying against the defending national champion Florida State 0-0 in their ACC opener, the Blue Devils will battle two conference foes on the road looking to capture their first conference victory of the season, including a showdown against the top-ranked team in the country.
No. 19 Duke visits Boston College at the Newton Soccer Field Thursday at 7 p.m. in Chestnut Hill, Mass., before taking on No. 1 Virginia at Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., Sunday at 2 p.m. Despite outshooting the Seminoles 25-8 in 110 minutes of action Sunday, the Blue Devils could not manage to roll the ball home, a problem they must fix if they want to avoid returning to Durham empty-handed.
“This is a tough week, no question about it,” Duke head coach Robbie Church said. “I’m really happy about how we’re playing. [We have to] build on what we did on Sunday. We don’t go backwards for [the next] game. We have to keep what we’re doing. Against Florida State, we created good quality opportunities, but we still have to create more of those quality opportunities. We’re still not getting as much stuff offensively as we need to.”
The Blue Devils (6-2-2, 0-0-1 in the ACC) have already scored 21 goals in 10 contests this season—only one goal shy of the entire 2014 season total—with nine of them coming from freshmen Kayla McCoy and Taylor Racioppi.
Racioppi—who led Duke’s attack against the Seminoles with five shots—has had a role in seven goals in her first season as a Blue Devil, notching four scores and adding three assists. Despite a six-match scoring drought, the forward from Ocean Township, N.J., is still Duke’s main offensive threat, averaging 3.6 shots per contest.
McCoy—the team’s leading scorer with five goals—delivered her most recent tally in a 6-0 victory against Appalachian State Sept. 17.
In the defensive third of the pitch, Duke—ranked No. 18 in the country in goals-against average—registered its seventh shutout against the Seminoles and has only allowed five scores all season. Sophomore goalkeeper E.J. Proctor has totaled 33 saves and sophomore defender Schuyler DeBree was selected to the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week after a standout performance against Florida State.
“Defense starts with everybody on the field,” Church said. “We have sung that song all year long. Our forwards, midfielders and backs are defending great. And our goalkeeper is playing very well. So we’re defending as a real unit.”
Boston College (7-3, 1-0) opened its ACC action with a 2-0 win against Louisville Sunday. DeBree and the other Blue Devil defenders will have to play at their best to control Eagle forward McKenzie Meehan, who is tied for No. 2 scorer in the nation with 10 goals. The redshirt junior has weapons alongside her in forward Hayley Dowd with five tallies and midfielder Gaby Carreiro with four assists. Boston College is 3-2 at home on its artificial surface.
Virginia (7-0-1, 1-0-0) plays No. 16 Notre Dame Thursday night before hosting Duke. The Cavaliers rank No. 2 in scoring nationwide with 3.9 goals per contest and opened their ACC slate at home with a commanding 5-0 win against Syracuse.
Duke will battle the ACC’s attacking powerhouse Sunday, as head coach Steve Swanson’s team has notched 27 of its 31 regular-season goals at Klöckner Stadium, where it is undefeated in six contests.
Alexis Schaffer, Morgan Reuther and Meghan Cox have grabbed at least four goals apiece this year and Makenzy Doniak—who scored one of three Virginia goals in Durham last year—is the Cavaliers’ top facilitator with six feeds. Schaffer and Cox have combined for another six assists.
On the other end of the field, Duke will face one of the strongest defenses in the nation as the Cavaliers have conceded four tallies in eight games, with only one of them allowed at home.
“Boston College is always tough and it’s a very good team,” Church said. “We trained [with turf] Tuesday and Wednesday but they train every day and play every game with that surface. And Virginia is Virginia. They are the national runner-up, so it’s a really big test.”