One might think that after Duke beat Virginia 1-0 to claim the ACC regular-season title, and then celebrated quite animatedly in the locker room, that perhaps the Blue Devils would come out flat and overconfident against Boston College.
Actually, it was the opposite.
Duke dominated the Eagles in the first half and after the game, rather than complacent, head coach Robbie Church appeared visibly somber.
He said there were things on his mind that he could not talk about, but he did have plenty of nice things to say about the way his top-seeded team earned its 18th straight victory and advanced to the ACC semifinals with a 3-0 win against eighth-seeded Boston College at a storm-drenched Koskinen Stadium. The Blue Devils scored on both of their first two shots of the game and are now set to play the Cavaliers in Charleston, S.C., Friday.
“We were really clinical in front of the goal,” Church said. “It was nice to get a corner kick goal. I think that was our first one after many, many tries."
“Maybe for a couple years,” Church said, thinking back to the last time Duke scored on a corner kick.
Enter Chelsea Burns. The outside defender headed a corner kick from Ella Stevens into the right side netting in the 14th minute for her sixth goal of the year, and just her second that did not come on a penalty kick.
"I think it was a clean header, just down, and then I don’t know what happened on the goal. I couldn’t see it,” said Burns, whose shot actually deflected off Eagle Elysa Virella's head before going in.
"Maybe everybody could be a double black-belt,” Church joked, referencing Burns’ rank in Taekwondo. "Chelsea’s one of our best players in the air."
The Blue Devils (18-1-0) sucked the air out of the Boston College visiting crowd and bench with the goal, and all but silenced them 13 minutes later. In contrast to several of the team’s goals this year, Kayla McCoy crossed the ball in to Imani Dorsey, who stuck out her leg in front of her and volleyed a score to the left of Eagle goalkeeper Alexis Bryant.
The same goalkeeper gave up a 50-yard goal to Duke’s Schuyler DeBree just 10 days ago when the teams met in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The goal made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays and was a sort of redemption for DeBree, a senior who two years ago saw her season end when she suffered an ACL injury at that same stadium.
This game seemed completely different, though, needing no late heroics from Duke to seal things. The Blue Devils' body language told the story when they came out of the locker room before the second half somewhat lethargically. It was understandable, since McCoy finished a shot from the top of the box with the inside of her foot in the 41st minute that snuck just inside the left post and extended the home team’s lead to three.
Get Overtime, all Duke athletics
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
The second half felt different, in more than one sense of the word. It was down pouring, leading Burns to admit after the game that she wanted to get back to the locker room because she was cold.
In addition, though, Duke played it without redshirt senior Rebecca Quinn, one of the best players in college soccer and a regular on the Canadian national team. Quinn experienced stiffness in her neck after falling down while leaping for a ball late in the first half. She was about to be subbed out and Church might well have rested her for the second half anyways because of recurrent groin soreness she is dealing with.
"Not as happy [with] the second half, but I understand it. We’ve had five games in two weeks, which is kind of insane,” Church said. “You could see the legs go away from us from a number of players."
Boston College (10-9-1) scored on freshman Brooke Heinsohn in the 76th minute in a goal the top-ranked goalkeeping recruit in the country would probably like to forget. Off a corner kick, the Eagles’ Carly Leipzig essentially boxed out Heinsohn on the goal line—something Brooke’s grandfather Tommy Heinsohn, a former Boston Celtics player and current color commentator for the team, would not appreciate—before flicking the cross over her body and into the top-left netting of the goal.
Heinsohn entered in the 69th minute with the game appearing all but over. Proctor recorded one save during the game, and Heinsohn one as well. But Heinsohn will have three years to overcome any freshman anxieties as the presumed starting goalie, anxieties which may have also contributed to her not holding onto a shot that was easily catchable before it trickled out of bounds for a corner kick.
Still, the Blue Devils are in the ACC semifinals for the first time since their 2011 national runner-up season, looking for their first ACC championship in program history. During the past eight years, no team has outright won both the ACC regular season and postseason championship.
Duke will play fourth-seeded Virginia at MUSC Health Stadium Friday at 5:30 p.m., and if it wins will play the winner of North Carolina—which handed the Blue Devils their only loss this year—and N.C. State Sunday at 1 p.m.