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Duke women's soccer controls play against Old Dominion in road victory

<p>Chelsea Burns has buried three penalty kicks in Duke's first four games of the season.</p>

Chelsea Burns has buried three penalty kicks in Duke's first four games of the season.

When Old Dominion scouted Duke, it must have noticed Imani Dorsey’s recent production—during the first three games this year, she already had an assist and two highlight-reel goals.

But there was little the Monarchs could do Sunday to keep up with the speedy senior. 

The second-team All-ACC forward added an unassisted goal and drew a penalty kick to help the No. 12 Blue Devils earn a 3-1 win at the Old Dominion Soccer Complex in Norfolk, Va. Duke outshot the Monarchs 16-2, took a two-goal lead by the 22nd minute and returned to Durham with a three-game win-streak in hand. 

“I don’t know if there’s a better player in the country right now,” Duke head coach Robbie Church said of Dorsey. “She’s always been a really good player, but sometimes she would play well, and then her performance would drop off. Right now, it’s just a very high-level performance she’s playing at.” 

The numbers back up Church’s sentiment. The Elkridge, Md., native is among the only players in the country with goals in three different games and points in all four. And as she showcased Sunday, when Dorsey does score, she also does it in style.

With a 2-0 lead in the 62nd minute, Dorsey blew by the Monarch defense—going by multiple defenders for the unassisted goal. It marked the third time this year Dorsey carried the ball past the midfield line and all the way to the box before scoring.

But Duke’s second-half goal would not have been enough on its own. In the 82nd minute, Old Dominion’s Iris Achterhof sent a pass over Duke’s back line that Kyra Ricks reached in the box.

Ricks then chipped the ball over goalkeeper EJ Proctor and into the net for her first goal of the year. The play was reminiscent of a goal the Blue Devils (3-1-0) allowed last week, when Xavier forward Tori Doss reached a through ball past the Duke back line and dribbled around goalkeeper Brooke Heinsohn before finishing.

“We’re still a work in progress defensively,” Church said. “I thought our back line was really good today. We’re still working in the midfield and continuing to put enough pressure on the ball.”

Duke’s first goal came in the 15th minute thanks to another run by Dorsey. She drew a foul from defender Jackie Stroud on the left side of the box, and junior Chelsea Burns converted her third penalty kick of the year in as many tries.

“[Imani] is playing like every senior you want to play,” Church said. “She’s working hard defensively, offensively, scoring goals, running at players, creating opportunities for other players—I mean just is playing really, really well.”

Seven minutes later, Kayla McCoy also went down the left side, then scored inside the right post. The junior scored four goals in nine games last year before missing the last 14 contests with an Achilles tendon injury, and through four games this year, she already has two.

For a team that struggled to convert shots into goals last year, Duke changed its ways in the first half by scoring twice on only four shots against Old Dominion (2-2-0). Last season, the Blue Devils averaged 11.3 shots per goal, and still have room to improve this year having only brought that rate down to 10.8 shots per goal so far.

The scoring could take a hit without the presence of Mia Gyau, though. The sophomore was on the ground for several minutes Friday against Bucknell with an apparent knee injury.

“We’re not quite ready to release everything,” Church said about the injury. “But she got injured seriously on Friday night, which we miss her a great deal.”

Gyau has not recorded any points this year, but scored once in the NCAA tournament last year and recorded an assist in 2016. She was the seventh-ranked incoming freshman last year, and the Blue Devils have been using her both on the attack and defense due to her speed on the wings. 

The Blue Devils are back at home this weekend for the Duke Nike Classic, playing UNC-Wilmington Friday night and No. 20 Auburn next Sunday for a chance at their first ranked win of the year.


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