Groff's late goal sends Duke women's soccer to NCAA round of 16 :: WRALSportsFan.com

Groff’s late goal sends Duke women’s soccer to NCAA round of 16 :: WRALSportsFan.com

— A header by junior Katie Groff in the 88th minute was all the Duke women’s soccer team needed on Friday against 16th-ranked Texas as the Blue Devils collected a 1-0 victory to move into the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 for the third straight year .

Graduate student Mackenzie Pluck sent a corner kick in from the left side and Groff punched in her second goal of the season to push the Blue Devils (14-4-3) into a round of 16 matchup on Sunday, Nov. 20 against third- seeded South Carolina at 6 p.m., in Durham.

How It Happened
• In the eighth minute, Duke featured a few great scoring chances as Mackenzie Pluck’s header was saved and then had an attempt hit the crossbar, before Kat Rader’s shot sailed high over the goal. The chances were started off by a great defensive play by graduate student Delaney Graham as she stepped up to steal a pass from a Texas defender.
• The Blue Devils controlled most of the possession in the first half and featured excellent defense limiting Texas to only two shots.
• Duke held an 8-2 advantage on shots in the first half.
• The Blue Devils hit the crossbar in the 65th minute as freshman Devin Lynch used his left foot from outside the box and placed a ball that went off the crossbar and out of bounds.
• At the 77:55 mark, Katie Groff sent a long feed down the left side of the pitch to a streaking Michelle Cooper, who crossed a ball in front of the goal, but Rader’s shot was blocked from eight yards out.
• Duke then featured six corner kicks over a span of 12 minutes late in the match and had four excellent chances at a goal, but the Longhorn defense stood strong.
• That was the case until the 87:42 mark when Pluck found Groff for the game-winner.
• The Blue Devils held a 20-7 advantage in shots for the match with Pluck (5), Rader (5) and Cooper (4) leading the way.

Ratings
• Duke improved to 7-0 all-time at home in the NCAA Tournament second round matches.
• The Blue Devils are now 27-3-1 in NCAA Tournament matches played in Durham, NC
• The shutout was the 11th of the season, and third straight, for the Duke defense. Ruthie Jones collected two saves over 90 minutes to register her 25th career shutout and sixth this season.
• Katie Groff notched her second goal and second game-winner of the season. It is her fourth career tally and third career game-winning goal.
• Mackenzie Pluck notched her second straight game with an assist off the corner kick and 29th career assist, which moved her into a tie for fourth on Duke’s all-time charts along with Mollie Pathman.
• Duke improved to 40-16-10 under head coach Robbie Church in the NCAA Tournament.
• The Blue Devils connected on a goal off of a corner kick for the seventh time this season and the second straight match.
• Michelle Cooper now owns 87 shots this season, which is tied for the fourth-most in school history.

Quotes
“First of all, I want to congratulate Texas. Again, obviously, Angela’s [Kelly] has done a remarkable job with that program. Between winning the Big 12 championship and they’ve got a lot of special players on that team, so I think they had a phenomenal year, but really, really proud of our girls. I thought we started a little bit slow. I thought the first 10 to 15 minutes, we had to find our rhythm of play, but once we found our rhythm of play, I thought we played really, really well. I thought we controlled the game, but as we all know in soccer, sometimes controlling the game doesn’t mean you’re going to score goals with it. We created opportunities in the first half, but then we didn’t have great runs sometimes. We got too deep on our runs, but we like what we saw. We like the combination play. We like us keeping the ball. We turned the ball over a couple times and then they found some transition, but I thought we were really good defensively on all lines of the field. I thought we did a really good job once we lost it up top, of counter pressing. Midfielders did a really good job of locking on in their midfield and then our backs did a phenomenal job playing against Trinity Byars, one of the best players in the country. They really took her out of the game, and Lexi Missimo too, another really good player. That’s a very talented team and for us to come with a zero on the scoreboard is just outstanding. Outstanding for our group.”
– Duke head coach Robbie Church

Next Match
Duke hosts South Carolina on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 6 pm, in the NCAA Tournament Round of 16. The match will be aired live on ESPN+.

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