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Nicky Chico's first career goal gives Duke women's soccer enough to tie Virginia Tech

Sophomore Nicky Chico scored her first goal of her career against Virginia Tech.
Sophomore Nicky Chico scored her first goal of her career against Virginia Tech.

Despite 110 minutes of quality soccer on both ends Sunday night, the Blue Devils received their first draw of the season during their weekend trip to Blacksburg, Va.

Duke head coach Robbie Church and his squad entered the week undefeated and on a high after two top-10 wins in the previous three games, including a win against then-No. 2 North Carolina. However, the hot start to the season simmered down a bit Thursday with the first loss of the season coming against No. 7 Virginia. Sunday night’s game against Virginia Tech was somewhat of a bounceback game for the second-ranked Blue Devils, as they showcased all they are capable of on offense from a creation standpoint, but they ultimately tied the Hokies 1-1 in double-overtime at Thompson Field. 

“Sometimes it goes in in soccer, sometimes it doesn’t,” Church said about the team’s inability to notch a second goal.

Duke (7-1-1, 1-1-1 in the ACC) dug itself into a hole early. In the 22nd minute of the game, Virginia Tech’s Nicole Kozlova sliced through the defense and delivered a strike to the back of the net, putting her team at a 1-0 advantage. Later in the first half, however, a fill-in for Duke would put the Blue Devils back in the game. Sophomore Nicky Chico started the night on the left wing in place of Olivia Migli (who is in health and safety protocol), and would take the ball from the front left side of the goalie box and put it in to knot up the score before halftime.

Despite the even score differential at the end of the first half, the Blue Devils had handily won the shot battle, managing six in comparison to only three Hokie attempts. It was clear early on that Duke was playing aggressively, outplaying its opponents on both ends of the field and setting itself up well to pull out the win—but the team was unable to capitalize on those opportunities.

After halftime, this trend would continue strongly in Duke’s favor as it would notch 11 shots in comparison to only three Virginia Tech shots in the second half and overtime. Much of this is attributable to the red card and subsequent ejection of  Hokie midfielder Makenzie Graham in the 79th minute.

“We made some changes, trying to isolate players wide and run at them in wide positions too,” Church said. 

With only 10 players to defend during the final 31 minutes of the game, the Blue Devils mounted a flurry of scoring chances on their opponents but were ultimately unable to convert on those opportunities. The chances continued to come, but the ball just would not go into the back of the net.

The Hokies (7-2-2, 1-0-2) were able to survive much of the late offensive onslaught by Duke’s frontline through the stellar performance of goalkeeper Alia Skinner, who recorded eight saves while only allowing the single goal early in the contest. Late in the game, it seemed like no matter what Duke did on offense, she would not allow them to score another goal and take the lead. Skinner has impressed all season, notching 37 saves in the 11 games she’s played to date. 

Following this two-game low point, the Blue Devils should have plenty of optimism for the rest of the season. Forward Michelle Cooper and Migli should be set to come back from health and safety protocols soon and provide a much-needed spark for an attack that has only managed one goal in its past two games. 

The team gets to play at home for the first time since Sept. 9 this Saturday as it welcomes Syracuse to Koskinen Stadium .

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