- File photo courtesy Duke athletics/Shane Lardinois
- Duke goalie Ali Kershner
KOSKINEN STADIUM/DURHAM Call it a major opportunity for Duke women’s soccer.
The Blue Devils (4-4-2, 1-2-1 ACC) have been up-and-down this season and are currently on a three-game winless streak. But are they really capable of “beating anybody in the country?”
We find out tonight as they take on ACC leader Virginia (9-0, 3-0) which is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation and is looking for its first 10-game win streak since 1990. Virginia has one local player in freshman midfielder Alexis Shaffer, a veteran of CASL Chelsea who was the MVP of the state 4A title match for Green Hope last year. The Cavaliers have allowed five goals all season.
Ali Kershner is in goal for the Blue Devils and Morgan Stearns for Virginia.
Duke takes a two-goal lead at halftime, but the Cavaliers close the gap in the first five minutes of the second and get the winner with 10 minutes left to make it 3-2 and break the Blue Devils’ hearts.
The Blue Devils break ice with their first shot of the game in the ninth minute, as Kelly Cobb receives Kim DeCesare’s centering pass from the right of the box for an easy goal in the center of the net. Mollie Pathman gets the second assist.
And it goes to 2-0 in the 23rd minute, as Kaitlyn Kerr accepts Malinda Allen’s serve into the box from the right and puts a bicycle kick past Stearns. Cobb gets the second helper.
Virginia halves the difference in the 47th minute, as Morgan Brian takes a lead pass from Danielle Colaprico and beats Kershner on the left side of the net.
The Cavaliers tie it on a second goal less than 90 seconds later from Makenzy Doniak, who scores from the top of the box on Molly Menchel’s pass from the center line.
And they get the winner in the 80th minute, as Gloria Douglas bangs a shot home on Shasta Fisher’s pass from just outside the right goal post.
Kershner ties her career high with seven saves to one for Stearns.
They said it …
Duke coach Robbie Church: “The kids played really well. They’re just heartbroken. We’re in a tough stretch, but the kids are fighting and scratching and playing hard. Our play in the first half was unbelievable. Virginia’s a great team that wears you out to defend. But I couldn’t be prouder of our team.”
Virginia coach Steve Swanson: “We’ve got great leadership on this team and came out with a lot more intensity in the second half. We picked it up on both sides of the ball and got ourselves back in it against a tough team. Duke battles hard, but I thought our kids showed great resilience. We’ve been getting everybody’s best shot for a long time, and we know that.”
Kerr: “I always wanted to score a bicycle. It wasn’t exactly a bike. I’d never gotten one in a game situation. We were playing awesome. We’d had some team talks this week to get it back together. We just didn’t get the result we would have liked.”
Kershner: “We can always play better. The scoresheet says what it says. At the end of the day I didn’t do enough and we didn’t do enough. I try to make the saves I can and help our team win. When you play the No. 1 team in the country you’d better expect they’re going to be on your half a lot. But we played a tremendous game.”
What does it all mean?
That yes, Duke can play with anybody. But the resilient Cavaliers aren’t No. 1 by accident.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Douglas’ game-winning goal.
Duke: Lost 1.
Virginia: Won 10.
Virginia leads 19-12-7.
Duke vs. Virginia Tech, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Virginia vs. Maryland, Sunday, 2 p.m.