Despite having a week off since senior Kayla McCoy knocked in a game-winning header against Rutgers to punch Duke’s ticket to the Round of 32, the Blue Devils didn’t show any signs of rust in their match against Lipscomb in the nation’s capital.
No. 4 seed Duke defeated the Lady Bisons 3-0 Friday morning at the GW-Mount Vernon Athletic Complex to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament in Washington, D.C. The Blue Devils were able to get whatever they wanted on offense, notching 26 shots throughout the match, 16 of which were on target. Far more impressive was that Duke kept the Lady Bisons without a shot for the first 67 minutes. For a team loaded with offensive talent, it may be defense that gets the Blue Devils farther into the tournament.
“I think we’re getting better defensively and understanding the importance of defense,” head coach Robbie Church told GoDuke.com. “This is our second straight shutout in the tournament, and if we keep putting zeros on the board, we’re going to keep getting close to advancing.”
The Blue Devils (16-3-2) came out firing in the contest, shooting five shots before the first substitutions of the game happened. Lipscomb (15-5-2) continued to foul an aggressive Duke offense, committing five fouls in the first 27 minutes of the match, allowing Duke to retain possession of the ball. Nine fouls collectively in the match only gave the Blue Devils even more opportunities.
Then, in the 33rd minute, midfielder Taylor Racioppi dished a ball in from the left side to set up sophomore forward Tess Boade for a point-blank shot from the middle of the field.
“That goal—from the moment we went from the back all the way up, two passes and a finish off the cross—is what we do in training every day,” Boade said.
The Blue Devils continued their fundamental play for the rest of the match, never looking back on their lead.
To begin the second half, Duke kept the ball in its attacking half for most of the first 15 minutes. Corner kick after corner kick ensued for the Blue Devils, seemingly on the brink of pushing across another goal and putting the game out of reach for Lipscomb. That second goal came in the 62nd minute from McCoy, who was assisted from the left side of the field by sophomore midfielder Lily Nabet.
Sensing elimination, the Lady Bisons pushed hard to get any offense going against an unyielding Duke defense that had allowed zero shots up to that point. In the next 20 minutes, Lipscomb got off all four of its shots, all to no avail.
Sophomore forward Gabi Brummett put the game away with a 10-yard goal from the right side of the net off a pass from freshman forward Marykate McGuire to put the Blue Devils up 3-0.
“Gabi got injured last week and had an opportunity to say, ‘I don’t want to practice today,’ but she didn’t,” Church said. “That’s the kind of commitment players have at this time of the year. To see her finish that was great.”
Brummett, McGuire, Nabet and Boade all come off the bench for the Blue Devils. Their ability to contribute, as they did Friday with two goals and two assists collectively, is a testament to the team's depth.
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“That’s been the story of this team all year,” Boade said. “We have an incredibly deep team, and every game the coaches have trouble coming up with a lineup. We’re constantly putting players in, and I think it’s part of how we’ve gotten this far. Our bench players not only get goals, they get assists and produce so much for our team.”
With a recent injury to defender Karlie Paschall, who tore her Achilles in practice, the bench needs to continue to step up, both offensively and defensively, in order to keep Duke’s season alive.
The Blue Devils have a quick turnaround before a rematch with an undefeated, top-seeded Georgetown team that has scored three or more goals in eight games. Duke played the Hoyas to a scoreless draw Aug. 23 and will take them on in Washington D.C., again Sunday morning at 11.