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Scoreless draw at Louisville gives Duke women's soccer its fourth tie of the year

<p>Freshman Taylor Racioppi fired a team-leading eight shots against Louisville Sunday, but none of her attempts found the back of the net as Duke finished with a scoreless draw against the Cardinals.</p>

Freshman Taylor Racioppi fired a team-leading eight shots against Louisville Sunday, but none of her attempts found the back of the net as Duke finished with a scoreless draw against the Cardinals.

Despite the story told by the scoreboard, the Blue Devils dominated the Cardinals in Sunday’s ACC matchup.

After 110 minutes of play at Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium in Louisville, Ky., Duke and Louisville ended the game in a scoreless draw—the fourth time this season the Blue Devils have failed to close out an opponent through double overtime. Yet the end result did not reflect the pace of the game, as Duke claimed a 24-6 advantage in shots and did not allow a single shot on goal by the Cardinals.

“You’re in someone else’s stadium and you dominate them from minute one all the way through? I was very proud of them,” Duke head coach Robbie Church said. “That’s not easy to do. Sure we didn’t finish goals, but we did the right things and played some pretty soccer."

Both squads showed the signs of fatigue from tough conference contests earlier in the weekend. The Blue Devils (7-4-4, 1-2-3 ACC) picked up their first ACC win at Miami Friday night—defeating the Hurricanes 1-0 for their first road victory since a Sept. 11 matchup with Samford. But Louisville (7-5-2, 3-2-1 ACC) also entered Sunday’s contest with strong momentum, fresh off an upset of previously-undefeated No. 1 North Carolina.

From the beginning of the first period, Duke quickly settled into a rhythm. Church’s squad was able to stretch the Louisville defense, allowing forward Toni Payne and midfielder Taylor Racioppi early looks on goal. Despite a 14-2 shot advantage for Duke at the half—including five on goal for the Blue Devils—the game remained scoreless due in large part to the performance of Cardinal goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin.

“Their goalkeeper was absolutely brilliant… I thought she was the difference here,” Church said. “She was very good and really kept them in the game, because offensively they didn’t have anything.”

Louisville came into the second period aggressively with three quick, pressing drives, but was unable to materialize any into shots on goal. The athleticism of the Duke squad was on full display in the team’s best look of the game. An across-the-box pass from forward Kayla McCoy to fellow freshman Racioppi in the 47th minute went just wide of Racioppi, causing her to slide into the ball in an attempt to finish the play and redirect the ball to the net.

Church continued to utilize the depth and versatility of his team throughout the grueling and physical game in order to keep the Blue Devils as fresh as possible. McCoy—who leads the team with six goals this season—was an offensive spark off the bench adding three shots, including one on goal. Church moved Christina Gibbons around the back and centerfield, maximizing the captain’s versatility at the defender and midfield positions.

“Christina Gibbons is just a soccer player. You can put her anywhere,” Church said. You would like to clone her and have 11 Christina Gibbons. She just plays unbelievably.... [I am] very proud of her.”

As the end of regulation neared, Church said his team panicked as it attempting to get on the board. However, at when regulation ended, Duke settled down and was able to drive for two more shots on goal in the second overtime period. Much like the rest of the game, the defense held strong through the extra twenty minutes of play and E.J. Proctor was again not tested in goal.

The next outing for the Blue Devils will be a short trip down the road to Tobacco Road rival and current No. 1 North Carolina. Duke will kick off against the Tar Heels at 7 p.m. at Fetzer Field Friday. North Carolina will look to snap a streak of two straight losses as Duke attempts to solidify its ACC resume.