Coming off a lackluster 1-0 victory in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, the top-seeded Blue Devils entered the Round of 32 matchup looking to make a statement.
They made a loud one—the loudest in school history.
No. 1 seed Duke defeated Oklahoma State 7-0 in its highest-scoring NCAA tournament game in program history Friday night at Koskinen Stadium. Junior Taylor Racioppi opened up the scoring in the 10th minute, and five other Blue Devils found the back of the net to lock up their their spot in the Sweet 16. The win marks the 400th of Duke head coach Robbie Church’s collegiate coaching career and puts the Blue Devils one win away from tying their program record of 22 wins in a single season.
“Coming out here and winning 7-0 in the second round of the NCAA game is absolutely huge,” said freshman Karlie Paschall, who scored her first and second career goals in the win. “It definitely sets a statement. It tells the rest of the world that we’re ready for this and we can win a national championship.”
A blocked shot from senior captain Ashton Miller proved to be the opportunity Duke (21-2-0) needed to capitalize on its hot start. Miller ripped a shot that ricocheted off a Cowgirl defender. Junior Kayla McCoy cleaned up the 50-50 ball as it bounced toward the top of the box, where she was fouled from behind and awarded a penalty kick. The Lincolnwood, Ill., native stepped to the penalty spot and sent a ball on frame to the bottom left corner of the net, but Oklahoma State netminder Michaela Ongaro made a diving save and sent the ball out of bounds.
Sophomore striker Ella Stevens lofted the ensuing corner kick deep into the 18-yard box, where McCoy flicked the ball back toward the penalty spot. Racioppi ran onto the dribbling ball and blasted it into the back of the net. The Ocean Township, N.J., native—who led the team with 20 points last season—scored her first goal since the Blue Devils’ 2-1 victory at Boston College Oct. 19.
“It’s always good to score as a forward,” Racioppi said. “It got the game started and opened the floodgates, so I’m really proud of our team for following it up and smacking a couple in the back of the net.”
It would not take long from there for the Blue Devils to grow their advantage. Fifteen minutes later, redshirt senior Rebecca Quinn—who was named ACC Midfielder of the Year—sent a hard ground ball across the 18-yard box and connected with a sliding McCoy. The striker punched the ball into the back of the net for her 12th goal of the season.
Quinn scored a goal of her own just three minutes later. The Toronto native—who missed Duke’s last three games to play for the Canadian Women's National Team—ran onto a backwards pass from senior captain Imani Dorsey and drilled a shot past Ongaro from just outside of the 18-yard box.
Quinn’s four points marked a career high for the decorated Blue Devil, and her return was a welcome one for Church.
“She’s just at a different level,” Church said. “We’re more confident with her. She’s someone who just makes good decisions.... We’re a different team with her, and anyone would be a different team with a quality player like her.”
Just six minutes after Quinn’s third goal of the season, a new face broke through for Duke. Junior midfielder Kat McDonald—who started in the center for the Blue Devils in Quinn’s absence—sent a picture-perfect chip over the Cowgirl back line and into the 18-yard box. Paschall ran onto the ball and ripped a hard ball into the left corner of the net for her first career goal.
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The Brentwood, Tenn., native went on to score her second career goal with 24:31 remaining in the second half. She dribbled down the left flank and struck a hard ball with her left foot into the right-side netting of the goal.
“I am not left-footed,” Paschall said. “It was incredible. Honestly, I was crossing, but I’ll take the goal anytime. I struggled at the beginning of the season, but coming in and being able to make a play like that in the tournament is what I needed and what the team needed.”
Junior Anna Munro also scored her first career goal in the second half. Freshman Tess Boade found the Ottawa, Ontario, native deep in the 18-yard box, where she sent a rolling ball into the goal for the Blue Devils’ final goal of the evening.
Dorsey notched her 12th goal of the season with 9:41 remaining in the first half to round out Duke’s five-goal first-half effort. The Blue Devils’ five goals by halftime surpassed their highest scoring output in any game this season, and their seven goals marked their most since a 9-1 victory against Wofford Aug. 19, 2016.
“The game becomes a little bit easier when you score goals early,” Church said. “The kids were really focused. They were really prepared. This was the most complete game we’ve played in a while—the last six weeks or so.”
Duke will have a quick turnaround as it readies to face No. 4 seed Texas (14-3-3) Sunday at Koskinen Stadium. The Longhorns—who played just before the Blue Devils Friday—tied Clemson 1-1 in regulation and advanced after defeating the Tigers 6-5 in penalty kicks.
Duke will look to keep up the prolific scoring and the stalwart defense—which kept Oklahoma State (16-4-3) from putting up a single shot until the final minutes of play—as it moves deeper into the tournament.
“It’s definitely something that we’re prepared to do,” Racioppi said. “We are so excited. We are one of 16 teams left. It’s all or nothing, and we know it, so we’re going to come out strong on Sunday.”