It was definitely a game to remember for head coach Robbie Church who registered his 100th ACC win as the Duke women's soccer head coach.
“...it’s a nice accomplishment,” Church said. “But, you know, the credit goes to, I’ve had an unbelievable staff, who’s been with us all the time through the 21 years, and they just did a wonderful job. Obviously the players, we’ve recruited really, really good players and, you know, both on the field and off the field, and we’re proud of what they’re doing...”
Speaking of players, it was also a day for breaking personal barriers as Katie Groff scored her first two goals in a Blue Devils shirt.
“I am just really happy that we won the game...at the moment, I just remembered being in front of the goal and wanting to hit it,” said Groff.
Groff's goals were the first two of the match as well, both coming in a span of four minutes. The first goal was from a corner kick sent in by Mackenzie Pluck. The ricochet off a couple of players fell nicely above Groff who was able to head the ball into the top right corner. The second goal came from a perfectly set up indirect free kick with Caitlin Cosme and Michelle Cooper both standing over the ball, but laying it for Groff who drilled her shot into the bottom right corner past Pittsburgh’s keeper Katherine Robinson.
Sydney Simmons was another player who broke personal ground, registering two assists and earning the first pair of points of her college career. This has been a direct consequence of her position change, finding herself in more attacking positions, a place she had not occupied prior to this year.
After battling with several injuries during her first two seasons, the Morgan Message game on World Mental Health day really meant something more to Simmons and the rest of the team.
“All of us knew today that we were coming out to play for something bigger than even the Duke on our shirt. Today we were playing for Morgan and representing our whole school, so that showed in our performance and how much energy we showed at the start of the game” said Simmons.
The Blue Devils totally controlled this game registering 17 shots, 12 on goal with Pittsburgh having just one on goal. The hosts had the chance to take an early lead with Pluck only able to direct her shot to the woodwork after rounding the opposing keeper following a beautiful team play by the Blue Devils. Two quick fire goals from Groff ensured Duke was sitting comfortably during halftime. A goal by Tess Boade shortly after halftime secured all three points for the hosts as it was now a mountain to climb for the Panthers.
Fan-favorite Cooper soon got into the action as she powered a left footed shot past a helpless Robinson to make it 4-0. It was better late than never for senior Marykate McGuire who registered her fourth goal of the season in the 90th minute after attempting five shots during the 32 minutes she played.
Recognizing the comfortability of this game, Church took the opportunity to make use of his bench. The Blue Devils made 13 substitutions and fielded 24 players throughout the game. These substitutions saw all three goalkeepers play and ensured freshman Dieynaba “JJ” Ndaw attained a season high 17 minutes.
Church will be seeking his 101st ACC victory on Friday, Oct. 15, when Duke squares off against Wake Forest.
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