CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Coming off a match on Sunday that featured a season high goals, the 25th-ranked Duke women’s soccer team struggled to get its offense together on Thursday in the regular season finale at fourth-ranked North Carolina. The Blue Devils dropped a 3-0 decision to the Tar Heels at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C.
With the loss, Duke closed the regular season with an 8-6-4 overall and 5-5-3 mark in the ACC. North Carolina improved to 16-3-0 overall and 10-3-0. Duke clinched the No. 7 seed in the ACC Tournament and will face second-seeded Florida State on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 1:00 p.m., in Tallahassee, Fla.
“With the result, we have qualified for the ACC Tournament,” said Duke head coach Robbie Church. “We have eight teams playing and everyone is 0-0. We are playing for an ACC Championship and that is a great honor. We are glad to be playing, but we have to play better and play together more. We will have to make better decisions. We will be better Sunday and I promise you will see a better game.”
The first half was all North Carolina as the Tar Heels held a 16-1 shot advantage.
North Carolina opened with a shot that was saved by Blue Devil redshirt junior Meghan Thomas and the Blue Devils came back to feature their only attempt of the first 45 minutes. In Duke’s only corner kick of the first half, senior Mollie Pathman served a great ball in front of the goal and senior Natasha Anasi leaped for a header attempt that went high over the crossbar at the 5:18 mark.
The Tar Heels featured one of their best chances in the 23rd minute as Keali Ohai fired a right-footed attempt that Thomas dove to her right to make the stop.
At the 36:02 mark, North Carolina connected on the first tally of the match to take a 1-0 advantage. Kelly McFarlane threw the ball towards the end line near the post to Hanna Gardner, who headed the ball to the 15-yard mark. Cameron Castleberry took two touches and hit the top right corner of the goal.
The one shot attempt by Duke in the first half was a season low. The Blue Devils had taken three shots against UCLA and Clemson in the first stanza earlier this season. Thomas featured four saves in the first half in goal for Duke.
North Carolina went ahead 2-0 at the 46:31 mark as Brooke Elby blasted a shot into the left corner past a diving Thomas.
“The goal a minute and a half into the second half was a real killer,” commented Church. “I really thought we were going to come back and we played a lot better and put some things together, except for the final ball.”
Duke netted its second shot attempt in the 61st minute as junior Kelly Cobb fed senior Laura Weinberg for a right-footed attempt, but it was saved by Tar Heel keeper Bryane Heaberlin.
North Carolina was awarded a penalty kick at the 71:11 mark as a collision in the box occurred with Tar Heels’ Summer Green. Green stepped up and hit the top left of the net and went ahead 3-0.
The three goals allowed by Thomas was a season high as the Castle Rock, Colo., product had only allowed three goals in seven matches this year. It also snapped a five-match unbeaten streak for Duke dating back to Oct. 13.
“I am shocked right now,” said Church. “I’ve got to go back and look at the tape. I knew we were ready. I would have bet everything that we had that we were ready to play tonight. Give North Carolina a lot of credit. They came out and intimidated us. They worked extremely hard and worked together.”
For the match, Duke was held to a season-low two shots, while the Tar Heels closed the match with 19. It marked a season low attempts by the Blue Devils. The previous low was nine against Virginia and Maryland.