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Duke women's soccer rallies for convincing first win of season

<p>Chelsea Burns broke a 1-1 tie late in the second half with a penalty kick to the bottom left corner of the net.</p>

Chelsea Burns broke a 1-1 tie late in the second half with a penalty kick to the bottom left corner of the net.

With 13 first-half shots and a handful more in the first 29 minutes of the second half, the Blue Devils were dominating Sunday’s game, yet had just one goal to show for it.

It was only a matter of time until they would ultimately break through.

Thanks to a penalty kick from junior Chelsea Burns and a final goal in the waning seconds by senior Imani Dorsey, No. 12 Duke eased past Xavier 3-1 at Koskinen Stadium for the Blue Devils’ first win of the 2017 campaign. After falling in a grueling overtime battle less than 48 hours earlier against No. 6 North Carolina, Duke once again had to endure blistering heat against the Musketeers, with temperatures rising to 94 degrees during the contest.

Fortunately, the Blue Devil offense delivered late to make sure it would not have to play more than 90 minutes again in the North Carolina summer.

“Coming off of Friday’s game, everyone was pretty tired,” junior forward Kayla McCoy said. “It was a really emotionally, mentally exhausting game, so coming into here, it took a little more mental focus and a little bit of heart to get through the 90 minutes.”

The visitors were the first to get on the scoreboard with a 14th-minute goal by forward Tori Doss. On Xavier’s lone real attacking threat on the day, Doss was able to elude her defender and flick the ball past Duke goalkeeper Brooke Heinsohn, who had crept well outside her 18-yard box, setting up an easy shot on a wide-open net.

A mistake like that from Heinsohn, a redshirt freshman making her collegiate debut after spending last season with the U.S. U-20 women’s national team, may have just been rookie jitters.

“Like every goal, it was a combination of play that starts up high on the field,” Blue Devil head coach Robbie Church said. “We didn’t have good pressure on the ball and then it got split between our two backs.... We just weren’t tight enough defensively. We didn’t get there with our legs.”

It didn’t take long, however, for Duke (1-1) to respond. Three minutes later, junior Taylor Racioppi fed McCoy with a perfect through ball out wide on the left. McCoy then glided past the Musketeer back line and slipped the ball past Xavier goalkeeper Toni Bizzaro at the back post for the equalizer.

“It’s definitely nice to just get one goal,” McCoy said. “Once you break through that barrier of one goal, you know the next ones are going to come after that, so it definitely felt good to get that one out of the way.”

For McCoy, it has been an uphill climb to get back on the field since suffering a torn Achilles’ tendon last fall against Boston College. But despite missing the final 14 games of the 2016 season, it did not appear as if any chemistry between her and Racioppi had faded.

Two minutes later, it was McCoy setting up Racioppi after a long-distance attempt by McCoy bounced off Bizzaro’s hands and into the feet of Racioppi. Although the Ocean Township, N.J., native was unable to finish on that shot, nor any of her five other shots Sunday, she and her attacking mate set the tone for a Duke offense that controlled the game throughout.

After about a half-hour’s worth of play, the teams finally settled in. Neither squad had much going in the last 10 minutes of the first half, with the contest remaining tied at one goal apiece headed to intermission.

It stayed that way until the 74th minute, when Musketeer defender Addie Englehart tripped Duke’s Ella Stevens inside the Xavier box, setting up a penalty-kick opportunity for Burns. And the junior did not miss, placing it perfectly into the bottom left corner for the game-winning score.

“I like what I’ve seen so far on the offensive side,” Church said. “We’ve played one game without Ella, we played without Rebecca [Quinn], and they’re part of that rotation up front. Unfortunately, we didn’t have Ashton [Miller] today, so we haven’t had everybody there to get our rotation down pat and play off one another.... We’ve got great potential at those positions, but we’ve got to get everybody there and training together.”

Injuries aside, the Blue Devil offense did not seem to miss a beat. Duke racked up 23 shots—including 13 on goal—to just two for the Musketeers (1-1), both off the foot of Doss.

Imani Dorsey added the final tally with just 21 seconds to play. Dorsey carried the ball from midfield all the way up the left side, pushing right into the Xavier box and scoring the capper, her first of the year.

“There’s a lot of offensively talented players on our team,” McCoy said. “I’m really excited to see how we come together and it’s only the second game of the season, and we have so much growth still to happen. But it’s exciting because we’re already looking pretty good.”

Duke continues with another double dip next weekend as it looks to build a winning streak. The Blue Devils will host Bucknell Friday afternoon in Durham before traveling up to Norfolk, Va., for a matchup with Old Dominion Sunday.

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