DURHAM, N.C. – Under the lights of Koskinen Stadium, senior Imani Dorsey provided the game-winning goal and the No. 1 seed Duke Blue Devils (20-2-0) held UNCG (11-8-3) to a lone first-half shot to blank the Spartans 1-0 in the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament Saturday evening.
After a scoreless first half that featured 17 shots for the home team, Dorsey broke through with her 11th goal of the season in the 69th minute of action. The ACC’s Offensive Player of the Year rolled a shot past UNCG keeper Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper to the bottom right corner for what proved to be the game-winner.
“I just saw an opportunity to run at them and catch them off guard on the counter attack, get a shot and keep it on frame and it worked out,” said Dorsey on her game winner. “It was frustrating, especially against a defense that sits in like that. The biggest part is that we worked through it and made sure we were winning balls like the one where the counter attack came from.”
Duke fired 17 of its season-high 31 shots in the first half, with seven on goal. The Blue Devils tested Tyler-Cooper from start to finish, forcing the Spartan goalie to make nine saves in total. Dorsey led the team with 12 attempts, which breaks her previous career high of eight.
“In these journeys in the NCAA Tournament, you’ve been waiting a couple days and seeing other games around the nation, the first one can be pretty tough,” head coach Robbie Church said. “I thought we played really well tonight, but UNCG came out and did what they needed to do. They put 10 people behind the ball and it’s tough to break down a defense like that.”
The Blue Devil defense put on yet another impressive performance, limiting UNCG to just one shot, a blocked attempt at the 26:18 mark, and keeping the Spartans out of their offensive half for a majority of the contest. Saturday marked the 14th shutout of the season for Duke, which moves into a tie for second in the record books for single-season clean sheets. EJ Proctor played all 90 between the posts in her 11th solo shutout of the season, which moves up to second in the Duke career record book.
Schuyler DeBree, Taylor Mitchell and Chelsea Burns all recorded 80-plus minutes on the night, with DeBree and Mitchell both going the distance for the 19th and 13th times this season, respectively.
With the win, Duke moves just two shy of tying the school record for single-season victories, which was set in 2011 with 22.
Next up for Duke is Oklahoma State, who took down Missouri State in penalty kicks to move on to the second round of play. The Blue Devils and Cowgirls will square off at 7:30 p.m. ET at Koskinen Stadium on Friday, Nov. 17. No. 4 seed Texas and Clemson will battle in the other match at Koskinen, with kickoff set for 5 p.m. Friday. The winners of those two contests will meet for the right to advance to the quarterfinals on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m.
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