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WSOC: Duke Upends No. 6 Florida, 1-0, to Advance to NCAA Third Round

Posted November 23, 2013

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— Led by a first half goal by two-time All-America Natasha Anasi, the Duke women’s soccer team upset second-seeded and sixth-ranked Florida on Friday evening at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C., as the Blue Devils posted a 1-0 victory to advance to the NCAA Tournament Third Round.

With the win, Duke (9-8-5) will next face Arkansas (15-8) on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1:00 p.m., at Koskinen Stadium. The Blue Devils carded their 10th straight victory at home in NCAA action and advanced to at least the NCAA Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year.

“It’s a tough group,” said Duke head coach Robbie Church. “Once we left Boston College in the early part of October … just really took a beating, and we knew we had to get points in every game that was coming up to even get to the NCAA Tournament. We did that. We fell a little bit with Carolina and Florida State, but now we go back to a situation that’s elimination and the kids … it starts with our senior class who doesn’t want to end their career. To be in the Sweet Sixteen again, is just a phenomenal feat with this team.”

Florida came in with the second-leading scorer in the nation in Savannah Jordan, who had totaled 22 goals on the year. Jordan got the match started in the 17th minute as she headed in an excellent attempt, but Duke redshirt junior goalkeeper Meghan Thomas made a diving stop to her left to keep the score, 0-0.

“She’s [Savannah Jordan] a great player,” said Anasi. “There’s a reason that she’s the No. 2 goal scorer. We were just focusing on having her play balls back. We didn’t want her to get anything in behind. If we can keep her in front of us, we knew that we could do a very good job playing against her and that’s what we did.”

Less than four minutes later, the Blue Devils would strike. Senior Mollie Pathman served a corner kick from the right side where redshirt senior Kim DeCesare was there to head it back to in front of the box. Anasi, a senior from Arlington, Texas, one-timed her second goal of the season to put the Blue Devils ahead 1-0. It marked her first career NCAA Tournament goal and the fourth tally of her career.

“It was a corner that was sent in,” said Anasi. “I think Kim [DeCesare] got the header, and I just knew that second balls were a big thing we’ve been working on. I tried to put myself in a good spot to put that away, and luckily Kimmy screened off the keeper and went in.”

Pathman and DeCesare added their second assists so far in the NCAA Tournament. A product of Durham, N.C., Pathman registered her seventh career assist in NCAA play to become Duke’s all-time leader in dishes in NCAA action.

“It was great. Natasha [Anasi] is a player who works really hard on defense, and to see her score was the lift that we needed,” commented Thomas. “She was amazing on defense, shut down one of their top scorers in the nation. She did everything today. I’m really happy and I’m really proud of her.”

Each team added two more shots to close the first half as Thomas notched two saves on the attempts by the Gators. Both teams closed the first 45 minutes with four shots and Thomas added four saves.

“What a great set play,” commented Church on Anasi’s goal. “Kimmy [DeCesare] made a great decision. Mollie [Pathman] drove it well, ball went to the backside. Lot of times people will try and put that on goal; she made a great decision [to] bring it back across. And it was such a great finish by Natasha [Anasi]. She’s been close so many times on set plays during the course of the year. She’s saved that one goal that we knew was coming at a really good point, too. I am just really proud of the kids and how hard they played.”

The second half was very even, but Duke featured the first scoring chance of the stanza as senior Laura Weinberg showed some fancy footwork as she drove into the box from the left side and passed to freshman Toni Payne. A native of Birmingham, Ala., Payne fired a left-footed shot that Florida keeper Taylor Burke dove to her right to make the stellar save in the 57th minute.

Florida put the pressure on Duke over the final 20 minutes as the Gators attempted five out of the final six shots but the Blue Devils held strong. In the 84th minute, Christen Westphal fired a shot at Thomas but the 6-2 netminder dove to the right and batted the ball outside the post to keep the score, 1-0, in favor of Duke.

“She shot it; I just did what I was supposed to do,” commented Thomas. “And it luckily it perished very far away and my team was there to clear it out.”

In the final minute, Florida attempted a header by Jordan, but the shot went wide left and the Blue Devils held on for their seventh shutout of the season. The Gators closed the match with an 11-7 shot advantage. Jordan was held to only three shots for Florida.

“I thought [Natasha Anasi and Lizzy Raben] did a good job,” commented Church on marking Jordan. “Savannah’s a great player. She’s had a wonderful year. It took both of them, but I thought we did a good job of fronting and backing players. Didn’t let her turn, didn’t let her get space, any separation. Just did a wonderful job of keeping her, as much as you can, at bay.

Duke was led by Kelly Cobb and Kaitlyn Kerr with two shots each, while Thomas added seven saves in the net for the Blue Devils.

“We went prevent defense a little bit,” Church said regarding the end of the match. “So we took a forward off and we dropped another so we went 4-2-3-1. They weren’t getting good looks. The one the girl hit from the outside, Megan [Thomas] made a fantastic save. But it really wasn’t that good of a look. We knew if we pulled a player off, they would come down the middle of the field on us. We made a decision and we stuck with it. Fortunately, it came out to be a good decision.”

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCSU 24
GASO 23
Final
DUKE 52
ELON 13
 
Final
UNC 56
LBRTY 29
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR 4
DUR 1
 
3rd
ECU 37
NCCU 7
 
Final
TOR 2
NYY 0
Final
CWS 6
DET 3
Final
STL 1
CHC 5
Final
PIT 3
CIN 2
Final
BAL 3
MIN 2
 
Final
TAM 7
BOS 0
 
10th
KAN 1
CLE 1
 
9th
CWS 4
DET 8
 
Final
ATL 0
MIA 4
 
Final
NYM 2
PHI 7
 
Final
HOU 2
TEX 0
9th
ARI 0
COL 2
 
7th
STL 4
CHC 1
 
7th
SDP 1
LOS 1
 
5th
SFG 3
MIL 0
 
4th
ANA 0
OAK 0
 
5th
SEA 0
WAS 2
 
Final
MICH 52
APPST 14
Final
NAVY 17
OSU 34
Final
UAB 48
TROY 10
Final
UVA 20
UCLA 28
Final
PURD 43
WMICH 34
Final
NCSU 24
GASO 23
Final
UMASS 7
BC 30
Final
NW 24
CAL 31
Final
NEB 55
FATL 7
Final
UMO 27
MARS 42
Final
ND 48
RICE 17
Final
MIZZ 38
SDST 18
Final
ALA 33
WVU 23
Final
AUB 45
ARK 21
Final
STAN 45
UCD 0
Final
UGA 45
CLEM 21
 
Final
UNC 56
LBRTY 29
 
Final
KSU 14
OHIO 17
 
4th
OKLA 48
LATU 10
 
4th
KST 55
SAUST 16
 
4th
USC 52
FRES 13
 
4th
MSST 49
SMISS 0
 
3rd
OKST 17
FSU 20
 
4th
TEX 28
UNT 0
 
4th
NMU 21
UTEP 24
 
8:05pm Tonight
UF 0
IDAHO 0
2nd
LSU 7
WISC 17
 
10:30pm Tonight
OREG
SD
10:30pm Tonight
HAW
WASH
Final
DUKE 52
ELON 13
 
3rd
ECU 37
NCCU 7
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR 4
DUR 1