DURHAM, N.C. -- For the second consecutive match to open the season, No. 12 Duke registered an early goal and went on to pick a 2-0 victory against 21st-ranked South Carolina on Sunday afternoon in Koskinen Stadium.

The Blue Devils improved to 2-0-0 on the year, while the Gamecocks dropped to 1-1-0.  So far in the first two contests, Duke has posted two shutouts and outshot it's opponents, 35-9.

“I thought it was a really solid performance,” Duke head coach Robbie Church said.  “It was a fantastic first half. We played really well and created a lot of opportunities in the first half. South Carolina is a great team, a nationally-ranked team, picked second in the SEC and they go to the NCAA tournament every year. I knew they would come back at us hard in the second half.”

South Carolina came out and took the first shot of the match that was saved by Blue Devil goalkeeper Tara Campbell, but Duke went on to control most of the first stanza. 

Following a cross that hit the far right post from sophomore Mollie Pathman and a header by redshirt junior Ashley Rape, the Blue Devils took the lead in the seventh minute.  Sophomore Laura Weinberg threw the ball into junior Nicole Lipp, who then dribbled towards the top of the box.  From 22 yards away, Lipp blasted a right-footed shot that hit the right post and went into the back of the net to put Duke ahead 1-0. 

“Nicole can hit a ball,” Church said.  “I thought she was going to get a second goal at the end of the game there. She can strike a ball, she can strike a free kick. It was big. It didn’t matter who got it, but to get it early in the match to make it 1-0, especially in this heat. It was a huge goal for us to get.”

Duke continued to put pressure on the South Carolina defense the rest of the first half as the Blue Devils outshot the Gamecocks, 13-2.  Freshman Kelly Cobb came off the bench and attempted four shots in the opening stanza with two being on goal.  

South Carolina came out in the second half and controlled the game as it attempted four of the first five shots and had the Blue Devils on their heels.  Then in the 64th minute Duke had its biggest play of the match from Campbell in goal.

The Gamecocks went on the attack and featured a one-on-one matchup with senior Kortney Rhoades against Campbell for the Blue Devils.  Rhoades drove in from the right side of the box and tried to get the ball to the far left post but Campbell was able to deflect the attempt with her right foot as she slid. 

“I mean, when you have a breakaway like that, you just want to put it in her mind that she sees me,” Campbell said.  “I don’t want her to be looking at the goal; I want her to see me. I just tried to come out and make myself look big and luckily she put it just in my range. My backs did a great job tracking the people on the other side because they had two-three running on that could have easily finished that if no one was there.”

Energized from the great save, Duke came back only 24 seconds later and put the Blue Devils ahead 2-0.  Sophomore Kaitlyn Kerr beat two defenders and fired a 20-yard shot into the top left of the goal for her fifth career tally.  Kerr, who is out of Bensalem, Pa., finished the contest with three shots.

“That’s part of my game that I need to work on is dribbling and taking on people,” Kerr said.  “I can pass well, but going on-goal and getting off shots will take my game to the next level. That’s what I need to do. That’s what they told me when I came off in the first half. The second half I came out and tried to do what they said and it worked.”

Duke went on to outshoot South Carolina, 17-8, for the match.  The Blue Devils were led by Cobb with four attempts, while Weinberg added three.  Pathman and Lipp each took two shots on the afternoon. 

“To make a save like that always pumps some life into the team, it’s a wake-up call,” Campbell said.  “So it’s really exciting when you get a save like that and from that the excitement builds to an actual goal; and we needed that goal because they were pressing us. To be up 2-0 was big.”

The Blue Devils were led in the net by Campbell, who is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio.  She finished the match with six saves and registered her second shutout of the season and 16th of her career.  Campbell’s 16 shutouts now ranks tied for third on Duke’s all-time career charts along with Thora Helgadottir, who lettered from 2000-03.

“I was impressed with our team today,” Church said.  “I was impressed with our mental outlook. We started off both games this weekend with early goals. That was a huge plus for us. To get two wins, two shutouts, and create the opportunities that we did, I’m very, very happy with that.”