Duke didn't necessarily need a win Thursday night. With 22 points, it was locked in as the ACC's No. 2 seed, unable to catch undefeated North Carolina but still guaranteed of a home matchup this weekend in the conference tournament quarterfinals.

Yet, with a chance to pick up a sixth win in as many matches and enter postseason play with some major momentum, the Blue Devils showed no signs of taking their foot off the gas.

No. 5 Duke cruised past Notre Dame 2-0 at Memorial Stadium, getting a second-half double from senior forward Taylor Racioppi to end the Fighting Irish's season on a chilly Senior Night in South Bend, Ind. The hosts applied plenty of pressure throughout, outshooting the Blue Devils 13-11 and forcing five saves from Duke goalkeeper Brooke Heinsohn.

But after Notre Dame controlled the tenor of the contest for much of the first half, the Blue Devils came out of the halftime on a mission—as they so often have this season—and it took less than seven minutes for Duke to finally break through and open up its ACC finale ledger.

"We were not as sharp as we've been for the full 90 minutes, obviously, but the second half we came out with a lot of momentum," Blue Devil head coach Robbie Church said. "We really attacked well with Mackenzie Pluck down the right side, a big-time turn by Marykate [McGuire,] and then Taylor's done what she's done all year.... She finished that first goal, which gave us a really big lift, and she's been scoring some big goals at some big times."

The Fighting Irish (8-10-0, 4-6-0 in the ACC) entered the night in a tie for eighth place in the conference, and they almost certainly needed a win to keep their season alive—only eight teams make it into the ACC tournament and Notre Dame would've then needed to win all three games there to advance to the NCAA tournament.

But the Fighting Irish's early pressure turned to desperation down a goal and things began to open up for Duke (14-2-2, 8-1-1). The Blue Devils posted six of the first seven shots to start the second half and after another assist by McGuire, Racioppi broke away from her defender and fired one inside the right post to complete her brace and give Duke a two-goal advantage.

The goal was Racioppi's ninth of the season, and although she, along with classmate Kayla McCoy, has carried a heavy load for much of the season offensively—the duo has combined for 19 of the Blue Devils' 36 goals—Church acknowledged that he'll need others to step up against more stout defensive teams that can find ways to shut down one or two top scorers.

"We need some goals out of other girls," he said. "We need goals from Ella [Stevens, who] has done a great job assisting and helping out other people, but we need goals out of other players, no question about it. Tess [Boade] is one, too, Mackenzie Pluck, they're people that can provide offense for us."

Heinsohn, who hasn't had to do all that much this season behind a steady Duke defense, was called into action plenty often, but did more than enough with a couple of strong stops to secure just her second shutout in the last month.

After a season in which the Blue Devils made it all the way to the College Cup before graduating more than half of their starting lineup, there were no sky-high expectations for this Duke team. Church's squad, however, has proven itself to be one of the nation's best and the Blue Devils have as good a shot as any to claim potentially two trophies within the next five-plus weeks.

That quest starts Sunday afternoon when seventh-seeded and No. 9 Florida State visits Durham for in an ACC tournament opener.

"It's a coachable group," Church said. "They can change on the fly. They respond well. It's a very talented group.... But we have a long ways to go."