DURHAM, N.C. – The University of Miami women’s soccer team lost its first match of the regular season Thursday night, falling in its conference opener to No. 12 Duke 3-0 at Koskinen Stadium.
The Hurricanes looked far from outmatched against one of the nation’s premier sides, as the visitors entered the halftime locker room to a scoreless draw. Junior goalkeeper Emily Lillard made four first-half saves, including two at close range, to keep the Blue Devils off the board, while Miami (5-1-0) countered with a balanced offensive attack.
“There were times of great soccer and we just needed to execute,” first-year head coach Mary-Frances Monroe said. “The momentum of the game could have been very different.”
Sophomore Jasmine Paterson nearly opened the scoring in the 34th minute, as a dipping shot on a cutback play beat Duke goalkeeper Ali Kershner but hit off the corner of the framework. The Key Largo, Fla., native came just inches away from putting Miami up 1-0.
The visitors had the best chance of either team in the first frame, as senior Tara Schwitter lined up for a penalty kick just five minutes before halftime. The Oradell, N.J., native, who earned the chance after being taken down in the box, saw her shot saved by Kershner on an impressive dive to maintain the empty scoreboard.
“Tara did a fantastic job of beating her defender to create that opportunity,” Monroe said. “If that shot goes it, it could have been a very different ballgame.”
Duke struck just four minutes after the start of the second half, as freshman Toni Payne curled a shot past Lillard on a counterattack for her first goal of the season. Miami would not be disheartened by the newfound deficit, however, as Paterson and freshman Gianna Dal Pozzo each attacked the net and registered shots on goal.
A 59th-minute goal from Kaitlyn Kerr gave Duke a 2-0 advantage, but the Hurricanes continued to develop their own chances with some help from freshman Gracie Lachowecki. The speedy forward successfully created opportunities for her teammates, including a number of the seven corner kicks Miami registered on the night.
“I give Duke a lot of credit, they were able to finish the dangerous chances they created,” Monroe said. “In these games you can’t be dispossessed of the ball in critical areas of the field. You can lose it, but what you do after that is crucial.”
Facing a 3-0 deficit after a 78th-minute strike from Duke’s Kelly Cobb, senior defender Blake Stockton looked to have cut into the deficit, but was ruled offside late after tapping the ball into the back of the net on a set piece.
“You can’t blame the game on the referees,” Monroe said. “We need to do a better job of finishing our chances.”
The Hurricanes next travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., for a Sunday matchup with No. 11 Wake Forest. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.