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Graham goal, stingy defense propel Duke women's soccer to 3rd straight win

Of Duke's seven matches this season, four have gone to overtime.
Of Duke's seven matches this season, four have gone to overtime.

Duke’s match Thursday ended in a familiar setting: overtime. 

The fifth-ranked Blue Devils took down Boston College 1-0 at Newton Campus Field in Chestnut Hill, Mass., the team’s 12th overtime match over its last 24 contests.

To avoid another low-scoring battle, head coach Robbie Church made the effort to move junior defender Delaney Graham to an attacking position. Though the game did not go as Church may have hoped, it was Graham who scored the clinching goal.

Just over five minutes into the extra period, senior Karlie Paschall pushed across the pitch and sent a cross to junior Marykate McGuire, who then passed a selfless ball to Graham to finish it off.

“[McGuire] had a decent shot—I don’t think anybody would really blame her if she shot it,” Church said. “But she was able to scan the field and see that Delaney was in a better position to knock it in at that point. So great heads up play by a veteran player, a great decision by her.”

Boston College’s defense, led by twin sisters Michela and Sam Agresti, made it near impossible for Duke (4-1-2, 2-1-2 in the ACC) to put threatening shots on goal throughout much of the afternoon, with Allie Augur’s prowess in goal not helping matters, either. 

Duke was awarded plenty of opportunities off of set plays—totaling 17 corners compared to the Eagles’ three—but still proved unable to capitalize until overtime.

Perhaps the closest the visiting team got to scoring in regulation came in the 81st minute, when Blue Devil senior Tess Boade dribbled mercilessly through the Boston College defense and sent a hard shot, forcing Augur to make a diving save. Junior Mackenzie Pluck was on the other end of the ricochet to send another shot on goal, but Augur had time to collect herself and make another crucial save for the Eagles (0-4, 0-4) and send the game to overtime.

While Duke’s offense struggled, its defense remained strong despite freshman defender Emily Roysen missing the game due to sickness. Senior Remi Swartz made her first appearance of the season in Roysen’s place, with Paschall filling the position nicely as well.

Boston College midfielder Sam Smith caused some discomfort in Duke’s defense in the beginning of the game, but a quick outside defense swap to have senior Mia Gyau mark Smith proved to be effective. Gyau, Taylor Mitchell, Caitlin Cosme and goalie Ruthie Jones remained solid as always, leading the Blue Devil defense to their fourth shutout in seven games this season. 

“We earned three points and a shutout defensively,” Church said. “We‘ve played really great three straight games without giving up a goal, so that’s excellent.”

Nevertheless, Church expressed the need for his team to play up to par for the entire contest.

“We knew they had two of the better attacking players in the conference. They gave us some scary moments in the first half but the second half we completely dominated,” Church said. “Soccer is known for teams dominating but losing matches, and we don’t want to be one of those teams, so we have to get better at playing a full 90-minute game.”

As the season progresses, Church says his squad must continue to work on their first-half performance and on capitalizing on all of the opportunities they earn.

”You can’t get down when you miss an opportunity,” Church said. “Because another one may be right around the corner.”

Duke will continue its road trip to Syracuse, N.Y., to play Syracuse Sunday at 11 a.m.

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