DURHAM, N.C. — Facing its second straight top 10 opponent in the Duke Nike Classic, the seventh-ranked Duke women’s soccer team collected a 1-0 victory over ninth-ranked Minnesota Sunday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.
The Blue Devils improved to 4-1-1 and registered their third straight shutout, while Minnesota was shut out for the first time this season and drops to 5-1-0. The Gophers entered the match averaging 3.2 goals per game, but Duke extended its streak of scoreless minutes to 331 with the shutout. The Blue Devils last allowed an early second-half tally at Arkansas Aug. 26.
“You just have to win games like this on Sunday,” said Duke head coach Robbie Church. “You just have to gut games out. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but playing two top 10 teams in the country is kind of crazy.”
Miss today's 1-0 win over No. 9 Minnesota? Check out the post match highlights here #GoDuke https://t.co/33NXyZwdye— Duke Women's Soccer (@Duke_WSOC) September 4, 2016
Duke came out and opened the match with a shot by senior Christina Gibbons, but it was saved by Gopher goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs.
Minnesota came back with its best scoring chance of the match as Molly Fiedler found herself wide open at the top of the box and fired a shot into the right corner, but Blue Devil junior goalkeeper EJ Proctor made a diving stop as she just got her left hand on the ball to push it past the post.
“I thought EJ did a fantastic job,” Church said. “I knew EJ had to make one great save. I knew there was going to be one save that she had to make to keep us in the match. She did early when we didn’t step out on the girl. She made a bigtime save.”
The Gophers added two more shots, but one was blocked and the other went wide left.
Senior Rebecca Quinn, sophomore Taylor Racioppi and junior Imani Dorsey notched shots for the Blue Devils over the next eight minutes, before Minnesota’s Tori Burnett featured a header that was blocked in the 27th minute.
The Blue Devils were able to finally get on the board at the 31:30 mark as sophomore Chelsea Burnsfound a streaking Gibbons down the left side of the pitch. Gibbons, who hails from Raleigh, North Carolina, sent in a perfect cross into the box where freshman Ella Stevens was there. Stevens leaped in the air and volleyed in her third goal of the year. A product of Grayson, Georgia, Stevens’ goal would end up being her second game-winner of the season.
“Christina made a great run down the line as she was working up and down the line the entire game,” said Stevens on what she saw on the goal. “She was able to get a cross off and I kind of nudged my defender a little bit and found the ball on the other side of her. I was lucky to get a touch on it and went in.”
At the half, Duke held an 8-5 shot advantage along with one big-time save by Proctor.
#Duke GOAL!! @stevens_ella with a volley from @cgibby_ and @chelsburns and #Duke leads 1-0. #GoDuke— Duke Women's Soccer (@Duke_WSOC) September 4, 2016
The Blue Devils were itching to get another goal on the board in the second half and had four offside calls over the first 17 minutes. Minnesota tried to get a goal to even the ledger as the Gophers added seven second half shots to Duke’s one.
After a very draining match Friday evening, the Blue Devils used a lot of subs Sunday and would hold on to register their fourth victory over a top 10 team over the last 16 matches.
Duke was outshot for the first time this season as Minnesota held a 12-9 shot advantage. Gibbons and Stevens led the Blue Devils with two shots each.
Proctor, who hails from Wilson, North Carolina, finished with two saves over the 90 minutes and now owns 14 career shutouts, including three in 2016.
Four Blue Devils were named to the Duke Nike Classic All-Tournament team — Dorsey, Quinn, Proctor and senior Lizzy Raben.
“It is an important win because they are going to be a top team in their region and when you get to the NCAA tournament if you don’t win the league or in our case if you don’t win the tournament then you go in a big pile with everybody else. I am a little disappointed obviously with the tie on Friday. So to come back and get this win was huge. It made the tie taste a little bit better. I was proud of the kids, how hard they worked and everything they did on the field.”
In the first match of the day, eighth-ranked North Carolina registered two late goals to win, 2-0, over Villanova.
Duke will continue its tough stretch this week as the Blue Devils will host fourth-ranked West Virginia on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.