by Mike Potter
Duke (6-6-4, 3-4-3 ACC) is still on track for an NCAA bid barring some late-season disaster as the Blue Devils host N.C. State (6-11, 1-10) in their annual cancer awareness game. The Blue Devils will wear pink and the “D” in the center circle is also pink as they raise funds for the family of 6-year-old Morgan Blazek of Apex, who is a survivor of the eye cancer retinoblastoma.
The Wolfpack is in its first season under Tim Santoro.
The Blue Devils get one second-half goal against State’s 4-4-2 attack, prevailing 1-0 in the absolute must-win contest.
Duke dominates play in the first half, but can’t punch it in. The Blue Devils generate nine shots to none for the Wolfpack, which gets three saves from Mackenzie Stelljes.
Duke finally breaks ice on its 13th shot of the game, as Kim DeCesare takes a pass into the box from Kaitlyn Kerr and beats Stelljes on the right side.
And that’s the scoring.
Duke outshoots the Wolfpack 18-5. Stelljes finishes with five saves to two for the Blue Devils’ Meghan Thomas.
They said it …
Duke coach Robbie Church: “(The goal) was a nice little combination play outside the box, and then the ball was chipped over to (DeCesare). She timed the run perfectly. She was onsides and she did a nice composure job of finishing. We were close to being on the end of four or five, but we didn’t get there. … I think we’re playing our best soccer and this was the time to play our best soccer.”
State coach Tim Santoro: “We just wanted to be competitive. We’ve been competitive with a lot of teams all year. Obviously you’ve got to keep it tight defensively. We had to deal with flighted balls and clean up the second balls. We’re just undermanned, missing a couple of players, but our girls have been fighting and competing all year. We want to get a result in one of these last few games. I told (my players) this program hasn’t been in an NCAA Tournament for 16 years, and you’re going to feel that tonight because of the desperation (Duke) is playing with.”
DeCesare: “Oh, my gosh! We should have had five more goals. State played exactly how we expected them to play. Everything we scouted was what we saw. We knew we should have finished more goals, but we were lucky enough to get the one. And a win’s a win. We have pressure to win every game. We were ready to go.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke survives. And that the Wolfpack can claim a pretty good moral victory.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Duke: Won 2.
State: Lost 10.
Duke leads 19-10-1.
Duke vs. Pittsburgh, Sunday, 1 p.m.
State vs. Wake Forest, Oct. 31, 7 p.m.