After Friday night’s home win, Duke head coach Robbie Church held a blue team jersey in his hand. He quipped that the number on the back represented his age.
But the number, 200, was on a jersey the team awarded him after the game, and it represented something else—his updated win count in Durham.
No. 13 Duke’s 1-0 win against UNC Wilmington wrapped up at 11:30 p.m., concluding a marathon day of soccer at Koskinen Stadium that included one game, a two-hour lightning delay and two more games. For the milestone win, Church can thank forward Imani Dorsey, who scored a goal for the fourth straight game and led the Blue Devils to their fourth straight win.
“Imani is playing great, but we’ve got a lot of other people playing around her,” Church said. “It’s great to get a shutout. Defensively, for the most part we were on the same page.”
The game seemed like a flashback to last year’s Saturday night Duke Nike Classic game against North Carolina. That contest was also on a day of rain—in that case, more like a monsoon—and featured countless Blue Devil scoring opportunities with no goals to show for it.
At least the first half seemed like a flashback. The Blue Devils (4-1) outshot the Seahawks 11-0, nearly scoring several goals if not for unconverted loose balls in the box and miscommunications.
Still, the Blue Devils did end up scoring, and to nobody's surprise, the scorer was Dorsey. In what felt like a slow movie unfolding, the UNC Wilmington (2-3) cleared the ball in the box right to Dorsey, who was waiting at the top left part of it.
"I could feel where she was going to head it, so I just got on it and wanted to get a clean hit on it,” Dorsey said."
She then settled the ball with her left foot and with her second touch shot a low, curving ball into the right side netting of the goal. It her season's point total to nine, which is three points more than the next highest total on the team, Chelsea Burns' six.
"The shots are going in right now, so that's good," Dorsey added.
The second half was a different reminder of last year’s Tar Heel game, though. The Blue Devils could not score during the last 45 minutes, struggling on offense and playing conservatively on defense.
Church said he wanted to play four in the back, unlike his usual 3-5-2 formation this year, to make up for the injury of Mia Gyau, a sophomore midfielder who suffered a season-ending torn ACL and MCL last week.
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There were numerous times when fullbacks Burns and Morgan Reid stayed back as the offense pushed into Seahawk territory.
But the Blue Devils took just two shots during the last 45 minutes. Meanwhile, UNC Wilmington took three shots.
Seahawk head coach Paul Cairney, whose voice was audible throughout the stadium as he argued for foul calls and nearly earned a yellow card, hoped the visitors could score on a counter attack to even the match.
UNC Wilmington drew several free kicks in the second half from midfield, but redshirt freshman goalkeeper Brooke Heinsohn and the defense stifled all chances. The Seahawks managed only one shot on goal during the game, and even that was not dangerous.
The Blue Devils return to action Sunday afternoon against Auburn, which lost to No. 9 North Carolina 5-0 Friday evening in Durham. Although Friday night was a positive one for Church, he still has some unfinished business.
Last week, encouraging freshmen to support his team, he guaranteed “a lot of goals” at this weekend’s tournament. With only one goal to show for it so far, the Blue Devils have improvements to make.
“It will come,” Church said. “We created all this stuff…. In the final third, we’ve still got to take that last look.”