Coming off of its best offensive performance of the season, Duke travels to Chapel Hill for a rivalry match in opposition to the nation’s top-ranked staff.
Hoping to proceed what has advanced right into a four-game win—and shutout—streak, No. 4 Duke is dealing with maybe its hardest take a look at of the season in a highway match in opposition to No. 1 North Carolina Friday at 7 p.m at UNC Soccer and Lacrosse Stadium. The Tar Heels have allowed simply two whole targets of their six matches, a testomony to their robust staff defensive play and goalkeeping of junior Claudia Dickey.
Nonetheless, Duke has proved to be one of many hardest assessments for these undefeated Tar Heels to date this 12 months, with the Blue Devils putting 11 photographs, together with 4 on purpose, in a competitive 2-0 loss.
“We had been actually pretty much as good as they had been from 18 to 18. We had some phenomenal alternatives to attain, and we simply didn’t end them nicely,” Duke head coach Robbie Church stated. “I assumed they had been higher within the packing containers—within the offensive field and the defensive field—so we’ve to wash that up for positive. Now we have to be higher in each of these areas.”
Having already performed in opposition to North Carolina (6-0) this season and reviewed movie, Church added that he’s assured in his staff’s means to match up with the Tar Heels, and believes that “it’s time for us to essentially be examined.”
In its final match at Syracuse, Duke (5-1-2) dismantled the Orange protection with a boosted attacking entrance, which tacked on two targets within the opening 20 minutes. Earlier than that Sunday morning contest, the Blue Devils had solely scored two first-half targets all season, so the aggressiveness out of the gate was a much-needed change for the staff.
One of many driving forces of the offensive breakthrough was redshirt senior Mia Gyau’s transfer up from protection to a midfield wing, with Gyau notching two assists within the 4-0 win Sunday. Regardless of the success with that particular change, Church maintained that the staff’s lineup stays dynamic.
“Each recreation is completely different, and each recreation requires one thing completely different,” Church stated, noting that primarily based on how the sport evolves, Duke could function with both three or 4 again.
Duke will want its offense to shine in opposition to the staunch North Carolina protection, which ranks first within the ACC in targets allowed per recreation. The Blue Devils merely can not afford to fall behind on the assault, and should be capable of convert their alternatives so as to have fun on the bus again to Durham.
For the whole lot of the staff’s present win streak, nonetheless, the high-powered offense that emerged Sunday was principally un-needed, with Duke goalkeepers Ruthie Jones and Brooke Heinsohn making a formidable pair between the goalposts. Jones has appeared in seven video games whereas holding opponents to a mere 0.43 targets per match. Heinsohn, who was coming off an harm and struggled in her lone begin at Wake Forest within the season opener, picked issues up in a scoreless second half in opposition to the Orange.
At this level of the season, the Blue Devils are locked in. At No. 4, Duke holds its highest regular-season spot within the United Soccer Coaches Ballot since 2017. Whereas Friday’s match doesn’t formally rely as a convention matchup, a win would absolutely propel the Blue Devils increased, as would a victory subsequent Thursday at No. 2 Florida State.
Church says the staff is thrilled on the probability to match up in opposition to a few of the prime groups within the nation, utilizing this chance to reply the query, “The place are we as a program?”
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“I’m enthusiastic about [the upcoming schedule],” Church stated. “Our gamers are enthusiastic about it. I believe it offers them a chance to essentially put our stamp on the faculty soccer world.”