DURHAM, N.C. – It was home sweet home for the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils (12-1-0, 5-0-0 ACC) Thursday night at Koskinen Stadium, as they shut out the NC State Wolfpack (8-4-1, 1-3-1 ACC), 2-0, to secure their 12th-straight victory and stay perfect in conference play.
With the win, Duke starts 5-0-0 in ACC action, tying the school record for best conference start set in 1997. It also marked the 17th-straight win against the Wolfpack and keeps head coach Robbie Church undefeated against NC State in his tenure (16-0-0).
“I thought we played well tonight,” Church said. “That’s the best NC State team I’ve seen in 15 years. Tim [Santoro] and his staff have done a great job. I think that was a really big-time win.
“I thought we played really well both offensively and defensively. The second half we tried to sit in a little, tried to hold the spaces. We felt the only way they were going to score was if they went over the top of us, so we dropped our line a little bit. Overall, a really good win for our team.”
It was a relatively quiet battle throughout most of the first half, as there were just six shots total in the first 36 minutes of play. An early header for NC State gave the game its first attempt on goal, with Duke’s first SOG coming at the 22:57 mark on a shot from Taylor Racioppi.
Duke broke through in the 37th minute, as Kayla McCoy took matters into her own hands. The junior made an impressive run into the six-yard box and slid a shot past the keeper to record her seventh goal of the year and give the Blue Devils a 1-0 advantage they would take into the half.
The home squad wasted no time in getting things going in the second 45, as McCoy took a shot on goal just two minutes into the half. Nearly two minutes later, the Blue Devils tack on the night’s second goal, as Ella Stevens sent a cross into the box that landed at Ashton Miller's feet, who flicked it over to Chelsea Burns for the finish. Burns' fifth goal of the season and first non-penalty kick score pushed Duke's lead to 2-0.
“We set it up like a corner. We were trying to get everybody in there around the goalkeeper,” Church said. “That’s one you just whip in the box and see if you can get something. Chelsea was on the back post, it skidded all the way across to her and she put a nice touch on it.”
From there, the Duke defense took control and locked down the game while keeping the pressure on offensively. The Blue Devils earned three shots on target, with two for Stevens and one for freshman Karlie Paschall, who nearly put one past the keeper at the 67:29 mark. The Wolfpack managed to get four attempts away in the last 30 minutes, but nothing dangerous as EJ Proctor sealed her sixth shutout of the year.
The senior keeper now has 27 clean sheets for her career, moving her just three shy of tying for third in the Duke record book. She is also 20 saves away from becoming the sixth goalkeeper in program history to reach the 200 career mark.
Six different Blue Devils went the distance in tonight’s match, including the entire defensive line of Burns, Schuyler DeBree, Morgan Reid and Taylor Mitchell. That is a team-high 11 matches of playing the full time for DeBree and Reid, while the sixth such performance for Burns and fifth for Mitchell.
Overall for the year, the Blue Devils have produced eight shutouts. Four of those have come against ACC foes, which ties for the sixth most in school history.
Led by three attempts each from McCoy and Stevens, the Blue Devils outshot the Wolfpack, 11-7, with a 7-4 differential in shots on goal.
The Blue Devils remain home for their next match as a part of a three-match homestand. Duke hosts No. 6 Florida State on Sunday at Koskinen, with kickoff set for 1 p.m. ET. The match will be live streamed on ACC Network Extra, which fans can access through WatchESPN.com or the ESPN app.
For more information on Duke women’s soccer, follow the Blue Devils on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching for “DukeWSoc”. You can also find all-access coverage of all Duke athletic programs on SnapChat by searching for “dukeathletics”.