#17 Duke Women's Soccer 2014 Preview

Duke Blue Devils

Overall Rank: #17
#7 ACC
#17 Duke Women's Soccer 2014 Preview
Duke Team Page


Duke finished last season tied for seventh in the ACC. But they were one of six ACC teams to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. After getting past Colorado College, Florida and Arkansas, it seemed like only an ACC team could beat the Blue Devils. And that is exactly who they ran into in the quarterfinals. Virginia Tech made relatively easy work of Duke, beating them 3-0. It was a nice run for Duke and this team is in about the same situation they were a year ago. Duke will not win the ACC, but they will be a dangerous team in the tournament.

2013 Record: 10-9-6, 5-5-3
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Robbie Church

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Kelly Cobb, Senior, F, 7
Assists: Toni Payne, Sophomore, M, 5
Shots: Kelly Cobb, Senior, F, 71
Saves: Meghan Thomas, Senior, GK, 55

Other Key Returnees: M Kara Wilson, D Malinda Allen, D Christina Gibbons, D Lizzy Raben, GK Ali Kershner

Key Losses: F Mollie Pathman, F Kim DeCesare, F Laura Weinberg, M Kaitlyn Kerr, D Natasha Anasi

The Duke defense returns every major contributor except defender Natasha Anasi. Anasi is a massive loss, but getting Tabria Williford back from injury will help a little bit. Williford played in just six games in 2013 before suffering a season ending injury. Joining her in the back are returning starters Malinda Allen, Christian Gibbons and Lizzy Raben. Keepers Ali Kershner and Meghan Thomas almost perfectly split time between the posts in 2013. Both are back and Coach Robbie Church has the luxury of riding the hot hand, whether that is for a game or for the entire season. Thomas put up much better numbers, allowing 14 goals and boasting a .797 save percentage. Kershner allowed 21 goals and was over 100 points lower than Thomas in the save percentage department. However, she was voted a team captain this season and is a fine leader from the back. Either way, this is a defense that should do better than ninth in the ACC in goals against average and some of the extremely talented newcomers, like defender Morgan Reid, will help.

Duke lost four of their top six point earners from a year ago in forwards Kim DeCesare, Mollie Pathman and Laura Weinberg and midfielder Kaitlyn Kerr. The good news is leading scorer Kelly Cobb is back. She netted seven goals and midfielder Toni Payne added three goals and five assists. Duke will need to find a few more forwards to contribute and some will likely come from the recruiting class. Imani Dorsey is one of the top recruits in the country and midfielder Ashton Miller can get in on the attack too. All the strikers will be happy to have Cassie Pecht back. As a freshman back in 2012, Pecht set a single season freshman record with 15 assists. That was also good enough for second all-time regardless of class. She missed all of last season with an injury and her return could spark an offense that ranked 11th in the ACC in scoring offense.

Final Projection:
There are not many easy games on the Duke schedule. They play Ohio State, Stanford, WVU, UAB, Arkansas, Penn State, Hofstra and LSU in non-conference action. There are not many guaranteed victories on that list. And, of course, the ACC is brutal too. The new ten-game conference slate is missing Notre Dame, but every other team on the schedule is likely competing for an NCAA berth. That may lead to another record that hovers around .500, but that will be enough to get this team back to the NCAAs.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Tournament

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 1.29 (180th in nation, 11th in conference)
Goals-Against Average: 1.371 (190, 9)
Shutout Percentage: 0.292 (166, 9)
Save Percentage: 0.746 (232, 9)

Madness 2014 Women’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#4 Imani Dorsey
#8 Morgan Reid
#15 Ashton Miller
#79 Abigail Pyne
#82 Casey Martinez


See All College Sports Madness Top 44 Women's Soccer Previews