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No. 5 Duke women’s soccer defeats East Carolina in first-ever matchup in program history

Mackenzie Pluck started the scoring off Thursday for the Blue Devils.
Mackenzie Pluck started the scoring off Thursday for the Blue Devils.

First—the only word this season the Blue Devils seem to know. 

Not only are they rewriting history but they are signing their own names in the history books where no one else has been. 

Coming off of its phenomenal win against No. 11 Stanford, No. 5 Duke closed its nonconference schedule without a dent in its undefeated record by demolishing East Carolina 5-0 Thursday night. This marks the first time that Duke has ever finished its nonconference slate with no losses and no ties.

“It was really important for us to come out here and get the win and make a statement,” Marykate McGuire said of their mentality walking onto the pitch to make program history with their win against East Carolina.  

The Blue Devils (6-0) definitely showed up to win as they finished the first half with four impressive goals marking the most goals they have deposited in their bank heading into the second.

If that isn’t enough proof that this season’s players do not come to mess around, Duke also netted its fastest goal of the season in the fourth minute as Mackenzie Pluck struck a beautifully positioned ball straight into the back of the net off of assists by both Emily Royson and Michelle Cooper. 

Not even a full three minutes later, Cooper, who currently leads the ACC in shots per game, continued to write history as she became the first player in program history to score six goals over her first six career starts. Riding on the momentum of her first goal, Pluck drew East Carolina goalie Maeve English out to defend before abruptly sending a pass to Cooper who slid it right into the center of the goal. 

You would think after such a fast-paced and powerful start that Duke would step back to catch its breath, but it seems as though the 11 powerhouses on the field wanted nothing more than to continue pushing. Showing zero signs of fatigue, Duke pushed the Pirates (4-3) to their limit as they kicked their defense into high gear. Goalie Ruthie Jones was not about to let anything past her, and she has the track record to back it up. In all six of Duke’s games this season Jones has let only three of 31 goals past her giving her an impressive .813 save percentage.

On the defensive end Caitlin Cosme did not stop. However, she didn't stop on offense either. Every single time she steps up to take a free kick, the ball appears to experience a gravitational pull right into the back of the net. Following an absolutely masterful shot in their game against Stanford, Cosme showed everyone that her best just keeps getting better. After a foul on McGuire, Cosme sent the ball in a perfect arc right into the top left of the goal, solidifying her dominance on both sides of the field. 

Not only did the starters shine on the pitch, but the subs also got their chance to show off their skills. Coming off the bench early in the first half, McGuire along with sophomore Grace Watkins proved to everyone that you don’t need to be a starter to define games. The duo of the goalscoring McGuire and the assisting Watkins not only pocketed a goal late in the first half but also fired in another in the 87th minute marking McGuire’s second and third goals of the season. 

Church reiterated the importance and talent of the subs echoing their performance tonight.

“You see the quality we have on our team, against Western Carolina it showed too,” Church said. “Once they get a chance, an opportunity to play, they did a really good job. We are fortunate that group is a very hardworking group. They are very selfless, in the sense that they are very servant of the team”. 

The Blue Devils will ride the momentum of their historic nonconference record as they face No. 2 North Carolina in a huge top-10 rivalry clash Friday Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.

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