#5 Duke Women's Soccer 2013 Preview

Duke Blue Devils

Overall Rank: #5
Conference Rank:  #3 ACC
#5 Duke Women's Soccer 2013 Preview
Duke Team Page


The Blue Devils have been so successful that last season's trip to the NCAA Elite Eight could be considered a disappointment. However, Duke returns a bulk of its offense and looks to get back to the top of the rankings. To make the quarterfinals last season, the Blue Devils upset conference foe Virginia 3-1 before bowing out to Penn State by a score of 1-0. Duke had encountered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Virginia earlier in the season, so the payback was good for the team from Durham. Duke will look to get back to the NCAA Finals, a place they played in in 2011, losing to Stanford 1-0 in the final.

2012 Record: 15-6-2, 5-3-2
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Robbie Church

Duke welcomes back 95 percent of its scoring, including nine student-athletes who scored one or more goals last year, and the top four scorers from a year ago.  Duke’s top returning scorer’s in 2013 include Laura Weinberg (16 goals), Kim DeCesare (16 goals), Kaitlyn Kerr (eight goals) and Cassie Pecht (six goals).  The Blue Devils are coming off posting 65 goals and a school-record 207 points in 2012.  Pecht also had 15 assists, which was the top mark in the entire country for assists. DeCesare and Weinberg's 16 goals were good for 13th in the country and Weinberg's 12 assists were good for sixth. In fact, the Blue Devils were the third-highest scoring team in the country, pouring in 2.83 goals per game.

Duke’s defensive unit will have a different look in 2013 with the losses of four-year starters Tara Campbell in goal along with defenders Erin Koballa, Maddy Haller and Libby Jandl.  The Blue Devils return Natasha Anasi, a two-time NSCAA All-American, to anchor the backfield.  Others expected to see action on defense include Avery Rape, redshirt junior Alex Straton,Tabria Williford, Anastasia Hunt and Sammie Thomas, along with a group of solid incoming freshmen. In goal for the Blue Devils will be the tandem of redshirt junior Meghan Thomas and redshirt sophomore Ali Kershner.  Thomas saw action in four games last year allowing zero goals in 87 minutes.  A native of Palo Alto, CA, Kershner played in five games, allowing one goal in 120 minutes.

Final Projection:
The Blue Devils will be a powerhouse, especially on offense. Not only does 95 percent of the scoring return but outside of Pecht, all of the key offensive players are seniors. Having Anasi in the backfield is key with all of the losses the team encountered. Unlike the offense, the defense will look to some younger players to step up. Incoming freshman Toni Payne was named Alabama's Gatorade Player of the Year this past season after scoring 47 goals and dishing out 35 assists. She finished her prep career with 141 goals and 92 assists. Duke loads up with a challenging schedule yet again. Along with playing in the ridiculous ACC, the Blue Devils start the season with a Sweet 16 team in Texas A&M. Later in the nonconference season, they welcome both UCLA and West Virginia to Durham. Both teams made the NCAA Tournament and UCLA advanced to the Elite Eight.   

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Laura Weinberg, Senior, F, 16; Kim DeCesare, Senior, F, 16
Assists: Cassie Pecht, Sophomore, M/F, 15
Shots: Laura Weinberg, Senior, F, 103
Saves: Ali Kershner, Sophomore, GK, 2

Madness 2014 NWSL Draft Rankings:
#3 Laura Weinberg
#20 Natasha Anasi
#32 Molly Pathman

Madness 2013 Women’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#17 Toni Payne
#26 Elizabeth Raben
#73 Malinda Allen


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