WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Blue Devil freshman Cassie Pecht scored her first collegiate goal in the 10th minute and the No. 2 Duke women's soccer team never looked back, cruising to a 4-1 road victory over No. 20 William & Mary Friday evening in the season-opening contest for both teams.
Duke (1-0) established a commanding 4-0 lead by the end of the first half as the Blue Devils led 14-2 in shots for the opening stanza. William & Mary (0-1) narrowed the gap in the second frame, but the Tribe was unable to negate the substantial Blue Devil lead.
"That's one of the best first halves that we've played in the 12 years that I've been here," said head coach Robbie Church. "We spent a lot of time working on the offensive side of the ball and I think it showed. We were really quick and we really ran at them from all directions in the first half. I thought our spacing and our ball movement was really good. Overall I thought it was a really good performance."
Pecht, a rookie from Mechanicsburg, Pa., wasted little time registering her first career goal as she gave the Blue Devils a 1-0 advantage off a cross from junior Natasha Anasi. Duke did not let up on its early pressure and pushed its advantage to two goals less than four minutes later, this time off the foot of junior Laura Weinberg. The William & Mary goalkeeper made the initial save off a Katie Trees shot, but Weinberg was there for the rebound and her 19th career goal.
In the 29th minute, junior Kaitlyn Kerr found redshirt junior Kim DeCesare 18 yards out and the Massapequa Park, N.Y., native finished with a shot from the right side to put Duke up 3-0. Sophomore Katy Colas capped Duke's first half scoring production with a tally in the 38th minute, assisted by Pecht and redshirt junior Callie Simpkins.
Twenty scoreless minutes passed to start the second half before William and Mary's Mallory Schaffer, the team's leading scorer from a year ago, netted the Tribe's first and only goal of the contest, making it a 4-1 game.
"They're a good William & Mary team and they're going to win a number of games this year," added Church. "We scored a goal early and that was really important. That set them back on their heels a little bit. The other thing that happened is that we didn't stop; we kept attacking and attacking and attacking. We didn't come out with the same intensity, the same work rate, the same focus in the second half. That's something we need to work on."
Neither team found the back of the net the rest of the way and Duke finished the contest with a significant, 24-7 advantage in total shots.
The Blue Devils return to Durham to face Elon in their home opener Sunday, August 19. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. from Koskinen Stadium.