Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Duke hits stride at right time
by Paul Kennedy, November 29th, 2007 7:45AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

Three weeks ago, after losing in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, Duke wasn't sure it would even  make the NCAA Division I Women's Tournament.

The Blue Devils' regular season was unimpressive: 8-5-6 record. But the ACC commands a lot of respect in women's soccer circles, and Duke's seventh-place finish was good enough to earn the Blue Devils an at-large bid from the NCAA women's soccer committee.

Now the Blue Devils are one win away from going to the Women's College Cup.

The Blue Devils shut out Indiana, 2-0, on Sunday to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1994. Robbie Church's women survived the tenacious Hoosiers and horrendous weather to accomplish something Duke has never done before in the history of the program: it's advanced farther in the NCAA Tournament than archrival North Carolina!

The Blue Devils' reward? A trip back to Indiana Friday night to face Notre Dame, which knocked off Carolina Saturday and is unbeaten in its last 16 games.

In Duke's favor is the momentum it's built up in the NCAA Tournament, where it began with a shootout victory over South Carolina, then moved on with victories over Georgia and Indiana -- both on the road.

"Nothing's been easy for us all year," said Church.  "The girls have fought hard all year, and I think the key thing is when your team is going to hit the stride. There's no question about it, we're playing our best soccer of the year. We've had some ups and downs, but I think the girls have just come to practice every day and worked hard and they've come to games and worked hard and now things are starting to go our way."

Sophomore KayAnne Gummersall missed most of the season with an injured ankle but came off the bench to score the winning goal against Indiana -- her first goal of the season.

Freshman Maeghan FitzGerald had not taken a shot all season before she nailed the clinching penalty kick against South Carolina.

When sophomore Sara Murphy, who had started the first 20 games, missed her first game this season against Georgia with an ankle sprain, FitzGerald stepped into the backline and helped shut down the Bulldogs, one of the hottest teams in the South.

The Blue Devils have no dominating striker, but they do have one of the country's best young midfields and a maturing backline in front of goalie Allison Lipsher, the only senior on the team.

Junior Lorraine Quinn and sophomores Elisabeth Redmond and CJ Ludemann all grew up in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area and give the Blue Devils stability in midfield.

Redmond, Duke's top scorer with eight goals and 11 assists, scored the winner against Georgia and the insurance goal against Indiana. Quinn scored against South Carolina, and Ludemann set up both goals last Sunday in Bloomington.

On the backline, juniors Christie McDonald, who came back from surgery to remove a brain tumor between her freshman and sophomore years, and Kelly McCann, the team's lone Californian, have provided experience.

"I'm really proud of the way the defense is playing," said Lipsher after the Indiana game. "We have a very young defense and they've stepped up and matured a lot this season."

Duke will be the underdog against Notre Dame, but McDonald says to not overestimate the Irish.

"We're obviously going to have a lot of respect for them coming in," she said, "but we are playing our best soccer right now and we need to keep playing aggressively in order to win."



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent College Soccer Reporter
Amherst makes statement against top French youth teams    
[COLLEGE MEN] For the third time in the last quarter century, Amherst College men's team toured ...
Ohai gets goal, Taylor shutout in U-23s' win over Japan    
[SIX NATIONS TOURNAMENT] The U.S. under-23 women's national team opened play at the Six Nations Tournament ...
Maryland's trip to England in works for years    
[COLLEGE MEN] Maryland, the 2013 NCAA Division I men's runner-up, will tour England in March with ...
Gonzalez awarded long-term contract extension    
[UC RIVERSIDE: Women] UC Riverside has signed Nat Gonzalez, the  Big West Women's Coach of the ...
Smith was close to leaving Santa Clara for Notre Dame    
[COLLEGE WOMEN] Jerry Smith, who signed a seven-year extension that will keep him at Santa Clara ...
Jacksonville lures Ruiz from UCF    
[MEN'S COACHING CHANGES] Jacksonville appointed UCF associate coach Mauricio Ruiz as the Dolphins' new head men's ...
2014 college men's signings    
[DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY] Players with ties to the Development Academy confirmed their collegiate choices Wednesday on National ...
Drexel associate coach Green takes Belmont job    
[MEN'S COACHING CHANGES] Belmont hired Drexel associate coach Bryan Green as the fourth head men's coach ...
Thirty programs are making changes    
[WOMEN'S COACHING MOVES] Thirty Division I women's programs have replaced their head coach or are in ...
UNCG's Nugent named Cougars head coach    
[WASHINGTON STATE: Women] Steve Nugent, who spent the last three seasons at UNC Greensboro, was named ...
>> College Soccer Reporter Archives