CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Led by three second half goals, the 21st-ranked Duke upset the top-ranked and defending NCAA champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Sunday afternoon in the Carolina Nike Classic played at Fetter Field in Chapel Hill, N.C.
With the victory, Duke improves to 4-0 on the season, while Notre Dame falls to 1-2. The Blue Devils snapped a streak of four consecutive Sunday losses in the Carolina Nike Classic. The last victory was in 2005 against Kentucky. Robbie Church also notched his 300th career win over his 25 years as a women’s and men’s head coach.
“As [Notre Dame Coach] Randy [Waldron] said ‘We were the better team on the day from the opening whistle’ and we were,” commented Church. “We played well. That was a tough thing for them [Notre Dame] to do — to come here and play both Carolina and us. Our kids really played well and focused the whole time. We needed that first goal to give us that energy.”
Duke opened the match on the attack and took three out of the first four shots off the legs of sophomore Mollie Path man, sophomore Laura Weinberg and sophomore Caitlyn Kerr.
Notre Dame was able to get on the board in the 25th minute on a fluke play as Duke goalkeeper Tara Campbell was clearing the ball away from the box and it hit Fighting Irish’s Bryn Gristle in the face. The ball bounced back off her face and rolled into the right corner of the net. Neither Campbell or junior defender Middy Haller could get to it before crossing the line.
“Our girls were determined that that kind of goal wasn’t going to beat us,” said Church. “That was just a crazy goal. To give up the first goal of the year like that [is a shame].”
The tally by the Fighting Irish broke a scoreless streak for Duke that lasted the first 295:03 of the season. The Blue Devils had scored a goal in each of the first three games in the first 10 minutes of those contests.
Duke didn’t hang its heads as 47 seconds later Haller sent a great feed to Weinberg who volleyed the ball towards the goal and the Fighting Irish goalkeeper, Sara Voigt, leaped to knock the ball onto the crossbar and over the goal.
In the last five minutes of the first stanza, Notre Dame sent shots at goal but Campbell saved one and the other was blocked. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Campbell has been huge to start the season coming up with big time saves and she did it once again as she lifted her right hand up on a shot by Lindsay Brown to knock it over the crossbar. Duke held a 6-5 shot advantage in the first half, while Notre Dame was ahead 3-0 in corner kicks.
Freshman Kelly Cobb, who was making her second straight start up front for the Blue Devils, came out and took Duke’s first two shots of the second half, including one off the left post. In the 54th minute, Duke lost central defender Ashley Rape to a knee injury. Rape, who missed the second half of her freshman season and the 2009 campaign with two torn ACL injuries, will be evaluated on Monday.
“It is a little bit of a bitter sweet win because of Ashley’s injury,” said Church. “Ashley is the heart and sole of our team in the back. She has put her life into our program the last four years.”
Duke used the injury to get fired up and eight minutes later Weinberg evened the match with her first goal of the season. A native of Boca Raton, Fla., Weinberg got a pass from Path man and drove up the 16 yard mark and blasted a left-footed shot that beat Voigt in the 62nd minute.
“It was kind of a blur,” Weinberg said about her goal. “I was at the top of the box and my back was to the goal. I turned her somehow and got a shot off with my left foot. It pays off to take shots early.
Weinberg had been all over the goal in the first four games of the season and was due for her first tally of the year, after leading Duke as a freshman with 10 goals. Next, Notre Dame almost regained the lead less than a minute later as Rebecca Timing’s shot just went wide right.
Duke kept putting on the attack and took its first lead of the match in the 66th minute off the leg of Cobb. A product of Chugiak, Alaska, make a run down the right side of the field and cut back to the center. The 5-9 forward drove up towards the 16-yard mark and crushed a left-footed shot into the back of the net that the Notre Dame keeper couldn’t do anything with. In two collegiate starts, Cobb now owns two game-winning goals on her resume.
“Kelly is a big-time player,” added Church. “We knew that when we recruited her — we have been excited for her to come in for the last couple of years. She has the capability of scoring goals just like that. Along with the other forwards that we have, we are just excited about the firepower that we have up front.”
“I was able to flick it behind one of the defenders and go one-v-one to the backline,” said Cobb. “I took a left-footed shot and was able to get it in, but I would say it was a lot of a team effort [for the win]. The midfield played really hard and pressured — Mollie and Laura worked their butts off getting back and pressuring. I was able to stay high and hit it.”
Notre Dame responded with two quick shots but the Duke defense kept them out of the net. Then, three minutes after coming in the match for Cobb, senior Chelsea Canapé scored the first goal of her final season in the 74th minute to put the match out of reach. Canapé, who is out of Phoenix, Ariz., had the ball crossed in, redirected from the center to over to the left side and finished off an assist from red shirt sophomore Callie Simpkins.
The Fighting Irish came back with two straight shots that went wide before senior Molly Lester added a shot that was saved. In the 82nd minute, Notre Dame defender Taylor Schneider received her second yellow card of the day as she took down Lester on a run up the field. Schneider then received a red card so the Blue Devils played the final eight minutes with a man advantage.
Cobb on what it meant as a freshman to knock off the No. 1 team in the nation, “It feels amazing. I cannot even explain it. I am so excited.”
The Blue Devils collected their first victory against a No. 1 ranked opponent since Oct. 9, 2005 against North Carolina. The win came on the same pitch as the victory versus Notre Dame today — Fetter Field. The 4-0 start by Duke also matches the best start under the direction of Church.
“These girls weren’t going to be denied,” commented Church. “They knew they had an opportunity and knew they could play with them. They are a great program but we rose to the occasion today.”
For the match, Duke outshoot Notre Dame, 15-11, while the Fighting Irish held a 6-1 corner kick advantage. Campbell registered one save on the afternoon in net for the Blue Devils. Voigt added six saves for Notre Dame.
“We have played in a lot of these tournaments where Carolina has played some of the higher-ranked teams first,” said Church. We have been close a lot but sometimes we haven’t scored that energy goal. Once we got that first I knew we would get a couple more because that really took us to another level.”