Despite outshooting the Cavaliers 19-14, the No. 5 Blue Devils were unable to capitalize on any of those opportunities and dropped a conference road game to No. 3 Virginia 1-0.
It was a scoreless affair for much of the game until Virginia (10-2-1, 3-1-1 in the ACC) broke through on a counterattack in the 88th minute with a goal from Makenzy Doniak.
“We have to keep people in front of us, especially at that stage in the game,” head coach Robbie Church said. “We fought and scratched and competed so hard, but we just needed to make better decisions defensively.”
It was only the second time that the Blue Devils (8-3-1, 2-2-1) have been shutout this season. The normally high-powered offense could not convert on its opportunities to score a much-needed goal. The chances were there, but the finishing was not typical of this year’s Duke team.
Duke had arguably its best chance in the first minute of the game, when junior forward Kim DeCesare ripped a shot that nailed the post.
“We played one of the best teams in the country, so we’re not going to be scoring as much as we have been,” Church said. “We did have our fair share of attacking and had lots of good things happen offensively until the final third of the field. There we struggled getting over the ball and with the placement of our shots. We just couldn’t quite make the right decisions at the right time.”
Junior midfielder Gilda Doria led the team with five shots, with forwards DeCesare and freshman Cassie Pecht each adding three apiece. Senior goalkeeper Tara Campbell registered five saves, including an impressive one in the 27th minute to keep Virginia off the scoreboard.
This was Duke’s second 1-0 ACC road loss to a highly ranked team after it lost in Tallahassee to No. 1 Florida State Sept.13.
“There’s lots to gain from this,” Church said. “The place was rocking, it was a great atmosphere, we played well, and we deserved a better result. Unfortunately we haven’t quite made those key plays at key times. We need to recognize how to make plays in tight games. We just have to be slightly more mentally and physically tough.”
After the loss, the Blue Devils do not have much time to recuperate, as they face yet another difficult ACC road game Thursday against No. 25 Virginia Tech.
“They’re having a fantastic year,” Church said. “We’ve got to recover and prepare well on Tuesday and Wednesday. Last year we beat them twice in tight games so they will be ready for us. We cannot let this linger.”
Thursday night Duke will try to avoid its first back-to-back losses since 2010.
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