DURHAM, N.C. — Behind a second-half penalty-kick goal by senior Christina Gibbons and the eighth shutout of the season for the fourth-ranked Blue Devils, the Duke women’s soccer team upended fourth-ranked Virginia Saturday evening 1-0 in ACC action on senior night at Koskinen Stadium.
Duke (11-2-2) remains first in the ACC with a 6-0-1 record. The win for the Blue Devils is the first regular-season victory for Duke over Virginia (10-3-2, 3-2-2 ACC) since Sept. 25, 2005, snapping a 0-8-2 record over the last 10 years. The Blue Devils’ 6-0-1 record in the ACC is the best in school history through seven matches.
“Senior night is pretty overwhelming, but just to come out here and get a really great team win,” Gibbons said. “We’re all pretty pumped about it, really excited. Virginia is a really good team, a quality win. We’re really happy.”
On senior night, Church started all six seniors and Virginia did an excellent job of limiting Duke’s scoring chances early. The Blue Devils featured their first corner kick and shot in the 37th minute as junior Ashton Miller sent a perfect pass into the box where a leaping sophomore Chelsea Burns was there for the header, but Virginia goalkeeper Morgan Stearns made the save.
With less than five minutes remaining in the first half, Duke tried to clear a ball, but it bounced off a Cavalier and to the feet of Virginia’s Meagan McCool. McCool drove at Blue Devil goalkeeper EJ Proctor, but the standout junior used her body to save a shot to keep the score knotted a 0-0.
Gibbons then made a great run down the left side of the pitch and sent in an excellent cross to a charging freshman Ella Stevens, but her one-time shot went wide right in the 43rd minute.
“I think at half time we talked it over,” Gibbons said. “We knew we could be more dangerous and we wanted to come out and really put them under some pressure. I think we were able to do that. Obviously, the last few minutes we just wanted to preserve the win, but really happy with how we played and we were able to get a lot of numbers forward and get some better chances.”
At the half, Duke and Virginia were tied 0-0, with the Cavaliers holding a 4-2 shot advantage. The Blue Devils’ two shots were the second-fewest in the first half this season.
“I thought we were okay in the first half,” Church said. “We were solid, for sure, but we talked about we had to play better. We had to be a little more dynamic offensively. We had to play a little bit more possession in the second half and I thought we did. The special attacking players really attacked in the second half. We kind of switched our formation at the end and went a little more defensively. Their wide players were really giving us a hard time. So, I am just very, very happy with this win.”
Duke came out in the second half and got the offense going quickly with three shots over the first 17 minutes of action.
In one of the best scoring chances of the night, junior Imani Dorsey got out on the break with senior Toni Payne and featured a two-on-three chance. Dorsey, who hails from Elkridge, Maryland, drove into the box and crossed a perfect ball in front of the goal where Pay was able to catch up to it at the far post and tap a shot. Stearns was able to dive and make the save.
“I know last week, beating NC State and moving to the top of the ACC was really exciting for us, but coming into this game we knew it was going to be a big test,” Dorsey said. “Virginia is always a great team and we always have a good competition with them. I think it was important for us to come out strong and very organized, because they’re always a very organized type of team, make sure we hold the ball, and take advantage of the team’s mistakes.”
Then in the 63rd minute, Burns entered the top left corner of the box and was driving towards the middle, but Cavalier defender Betsy Brandon took Burns down and Duke was awarded a penalty kick.
Gibbons, a product of Raleigh, North Carolina, stepped up and finished her fourth goal of the season to put the Blue Devils ahead, 1-0, at the 62:34 mark. The goal for Gibbons gave her at least one point in five straight matches and has now connected on three penalty-kick goals this season.
Virginia started pushing forward more and Duke went more defensive to close out the match.
The Cavaliers registered a corner kick in the 84th minute and Alexis Shaffer sent in a cross to a leaping Brianna Westrup, whose header went toward the far post. For the second straight match, junior defender Morgan Reid saved the ball off the line to keep Duke in the lead.
Proctor, who hails from Wilson, North Carolina, made one huge save on the night over 90 minutes and now owns seven shutouts on the year.
“It’s huge,” Gibbons said. “Obviously the ACC, so many quality teams. Every game out is a competition, so we’re really, really pleased with where we are but still hungry. We’re not satisfied with just being first place right now. We want to go win the whole thing.”
Duke ended up outshooting Virginia 7-4 in the second half and 9-8 for the match, with Stevens leading the way with three attempts.
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Prior to the match, Duke honored six seniors — Gibbons, Payne, Malinda Allen, Krysia Sikora, Rebecca Quinn and Lizzy Raben.
The Blue Devils will next hit the road for two straight matches at Florida State Thursday, Oct. 20 and at Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 23.
“We talked about,” Church said. “You get in these games and you don’t want to be the one to make the mistake. So sometimes the game gets a little conservative, but you’ve got to take chances. You’ve got to run at players. We’ve got to use our strengths. Again, I thought we were really solid, but I thought in a game like this you can’t be solid; you’ve got to be spectacular. And I thought in the second half, there were parts of that we were really, really special and did some really nice things too. We’ve got some work to do. We’ve got a big road trip coming up with the next two games. It’s a great way to send us off on our road trip.”