CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The third-ranked Duke women’s soccer team traveled downed Tobacco Road on Thursday evening for a clash with arch-rival and ninth-ranked North Carolina, but the Tar Heels spoiled the trip as they registered a goal in the 87th minute to notch a 1-0 victory over the Blue Devils at Fetzer Field.
With the loss, Duke drops to 13-2-1 overall and 5-1-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) action, while North Carolina moves to 10-2, 5-1. Duke remains in first place in the ACC with 16 points, while the Tar Heels are in second with 15 points. The defeat for the Blue Devils snapped a 10-match unbeaten streak, broke a 558.16 scoreless streak and a streak of five consecutive shutouts.
“It [the game] was not lost right there [on UNC’s game-winning goal],” said Duke Head Coach Robbie Church. “I thought the game was lost in the first half. I thought we didn’t play well in the first half. We played tentative, scared in the first 25-30 minutes. You cannot come on a top 10 teams field and played passive. We played well enough in the second half -- we had chances, had a lot of chances. We have to execute and stick one of those chances. Then the game is completely different. It is disappointing.”
The Blue Devils were without the services of freshman forward Kelly Cobb, who suffered an ankle injury in practice on Monday. Cobb, a native of Chugiak, Alaska, leads Duke with eight goals. Normal defensive starter Erin Koballa came off the bench and played only 22 minutes as well for Duke.
North Carolina started on the attack from the beginning with four straight corner kicks and then had two shots in the first 19 minutes. Blue Devil sophomore Kaitlyn Kerr registered Duke’s first attempt in the 20th minute and then sophomore Laura Weinberg had an opportunity a minute later.
Sophomore Mollie Pathman created a chance in the middle of the box that brought UNC keeper Adelaide Gay out from the net. The ball then settled to Weinberg with an open net, except for two Tar Heel defenders in her way. A native of Boca Raton, Fla., Weinberg tried to loft a right-footed over the defense and it went over the crossbar.
Both teams traded shots and then Duke got the UNC keeper out from the net and off to the right side but senior Chelsea Canepa couldn’t slide the shot in from a tough angle in the 30th minute. Shortly after the ball got loose in the box following a Blue Devil corner, redshirt sophomore Kim DeCesare tried a left-footed attempt that went off the head of Duke redshirt senior Molly Lester.
Duke had one final scoring chance in the 43rd minute as freshman Katie Trees brought Gay off the line and hit a slow shot to the right side of the goal but a Tar Heel defender knocked it out to DeCesare. A native of Massapequa Park, N.Y., DeCesare blasted a shot that went off the goalkeeper and out of bounds.
At the half, North Carolina held a 7-6 shot advantage, including a 8-1 lead in corner kicks.
Duke came out with better energy in the second half and in the 56th minute Lester received a pass from Weinberg, but her shot went just right of the post. Less than a minute later Weinberg found Pathman open in the box from about 11 yards, but her shot went right to second half goalkeeper Anna Sieloff. Pathman, a native of Durham, N.C., had scored two goals last year versus the Tar Heels and was primed for another one.
In the 70th minute, North Carolina almost broke the draw as Alyssa Rich fired a free kick at Campbell that she corralled but the ball was struck so hard it almost came out of her hands.
Trees, who is out of San Diego, Calif., then broke free down the right side in the 81st minute and took a UNC defender in one-v-one. Her shot seemed to go in, but it just went left of the post for the Blue Devils.
“I am very happy with the way we played in the second half,” said Church. “I thought we created chances with it. But being timid coming on this field was disappointing.”
Following a handball called on the Blue Devils, North Carolina’s Courtney Jones sent a free kick into the box where Amber Brooks flicked it to Kealia Ohai. Ohai fought off a Duke defender, fell on the ground, turned while still down and punched the ball over the line to give North Carolina a 1-0 lead in the 87th minute.
“It was definitely a foul, no question about it,” said Church. “I got to go back and look at the tape and it was probably the worst angle in the house. It looked like we were a little bit out of shape. One of our players had her back to ball and it kind of bounced off her, fell and then was knocked in.”
Duke finished the match with a 12-10 shot advantage and had the better scoring chances, but couldn’t capitalize. DeCesare led the Blue Devils with three shots, while Trees and Kerr added two each. North Carolina held an 11-1 lead in corner kicks.
“We executed well even without Kelly [Cobb] out there,” commented Church. “We created enough opportunities to win. We would have loved to have Kelly out there, but that is how life goals. Sometimes you don’t. You are hoping that somebody else is going to step up and steps through that door with the opportunity. I think a couple of girls tried to but they didn’t quite get it done. It was a heck of a match. It is disappointing to be on the other side and give Carolina credit.”
Campbell once again played a great match in goal notching three saves over 90 minutes. Sieloff had three stops for UNC, while Gay added one save.
The Blue Devils will next travel to fourth-ranked Wake Forest on Thursday, Oct. 13 at 7:00 p.m.
• Junior Erin Koballa played only 22 minutes off the bench as she is coming back from an injured ankle. She is a normal starter on defense.
• Katie Trees played a season-high 21 minutes off the bench as she is coming back from an early-season knee injury.
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