Revamped Duke women's soccer opens season
Duke had an up-and-down women’s soccer season a year ago and things set up for a similar season beginning today.
The Blue Devils were a .500 team last season, finishing 9-9-6. They were break even in ACC play with a 5-5-3 record.
Yet they reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, advancing past Colorado College, Florida and Arkansas before losing at Virginia Tech.
Duke begins its new season today, with only three players who scored a goal in 2013 returning. Four freshman started both of Duke’s exhibition game and coach Robbie Church said the young players will be counted on when the Blue Devils play Ohio State at 5 p.m. today at the UNC Nike Classic at Chapel Hill.
“It’s a different group,” Church said. “We’ve had core players the past few seasons. But it’s been a great group. I’m very proud of them. They’ve worked really hard. They played well in scrimmages. There’s no question it’s about a process.”
Duke brought in the nation’s No. 3-ranked recruiting class. Perhaps that’s why the Blue Devils, despite their youth, are the nation’s No. 10 season in the preseason rankings.
The four freshmen who started the exhibitions this month were Imani Dorsey, Schuyler DeBree, Ashton Miller and Morgan Reid.
One of the veterans returning is senior Kelly Cobb, who scored seven goals and, after two seasons of battling leg injuries, is healthy again. Gilda Doria, a redshirt senior, is back after missing last season with a knee injury.
Two of the other, well, veterans are sophomore’s Rebecca Quinn and Christina Gibbons. Both just started practicing with the Blue Devils this week after playing in the U20 World Cup tournament in Canada earlier this month. Quinn played for the Canadian team, while Gibbons was on the U.S. squad.
“I learned a lot from it and gained a lot of experience,” said Gibbons, who started two games as the U.S. team reached the quarterfinals. “You learn a lot when you are playing at that level. But you learn how to control your emotions well.”
Duke’s two games in Chapel Hill this weekend are against teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season. Stanford, which Duke faces at noon on Sunday, was a Sweet 16 team.