Robbie Church.DURHAM, N.C. – The final NSCAA/Continental Tire NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Poll was released this week with Duke tabbed No. 18, following its run to the NCAA Quarterfinals under the direction of head coach
The Blue Devils collected a 9-9-6 record on the season and reached the Elite Eight for the third straight year for the first time in Duke history. Duke advanced on penalty kicks at 24th-ranked Colorado College, downed sixth-ranked Florida, 1-0, in the second round, advanced on penalty kicks against Arkansas in the third round before falling, 3-0, at top-seeded Virginia Tech.
In the final poll, the ACC featured eight ranked teams. UCLA, Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Michigan, Santa Clara, Texas A&M, Stanford and Florida filled out the top 10. Rounding out the poll was Portland, West Virginia, Nebraska, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Marquette, Texas Tech, Duke, Boston College, Georgetown, Wake Forest, UCF, BYU, Denver and Illinois.
After falling to a 4-6-3 record during the season, Church and the Blue Devils rallied to win four matches and tie another on its way to securing an ACC Tournament bid and NCAA Tournament selection.
On the season, Duke was led by redshirt senior Kim DeCesare with six goals, six assists and 18 points. Junior forward Kelly Cobb registered a team-high seven goals and added 17 points, while senior Laura Weinberg and senior Kaitlyn Kerr collected 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Redshirt junior Meghan Thomas and redshirt sophomore Ali Kershner combined to notch seven shutouts on the season in goal for the Blue Devils.
Duke’s senior class of Mollie Pathman, Natasha Anasi, Alex Straton, Avery Rape, Weinberg, Thomas and Kerr closed their careers with a 57-27-13 record over the last four years.
Duke is expected to return five starters in 2014 – Cobb, Toni Payne, Lizzy Raben, Christina Gibbons and Kara Wilson. The Blue Devils will also return midfielder Gilda Doria and 2012 National Freshman of the Year Cassie Pecht, who were both out the entire season with injuries. Thomas and Straton will graduate in 2013 but each has the option to return for a fifth year.