CARY, N.C. (goduke.com) – After making an incredible run through the second half of the season and NCAA Tournament, the third-seeded and 19th-ranked Duke women’s soccer team dropped a 1-0 decision in the National Championship to Penn State at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
Playing in front of a great large Blue Devil crowd only 30 minutes from Durham, the Blue Devils concluded the season with a 14-6-5 overall, while the Nittany Lions won their first NCAA title in front of 10,676 fans.
Duke sophomore goalkeeper EJ Proctor was named the Most Outstanding Player on Defense. Toni Payne, Kayla McCoy, Christina Gibbons and Proctor were named to the All-Tournament team.
After Penn State opened the match with the first shot that went wide left, the Blue Devils came right back as sophomore Casey Martinez sent a cross into the box. A Penn State defender tried to head the ball out, but it went to the feet of sophomore Ashton Miller. A product of Okemos, Mich., Miller tried to one-time a shot, but it had a little too much spin and bent to the right of the post wide.
The Nittany Lions featured a couple of good chances early but Proctor and the Blue Defense held strong.
After coming in off the bench, sophomore Imani Dorsey made her presence felt quickly as she made a great run and sent a shot at the goal that just went over the far left edge of the crossbar in the 31st minute.
Duke’s two most dangerous opportunities in the first half went wide right and left of the goal. Of the first four shots for the Blue Devils, only one was on frame.
After Duke redshirt sophomore Malinda Allen went out with an injury, the Nittany Lions had a corner kick and Raquel Rodriguez headed a shot on goal that Proctor was able to grab for her third save of the first half.
At the end of the first half, Duke held a 6-4 shot advantage, but only one of the Blue Devil attempts were on frame. The Blue Devils were held to zero corner kicks, while Penn State had four.
The first dangerous chance in the second half came after Payne found junior defender Rebecca Quinn, who fed a streaking Dorsey. In a shot similar to McCoy’s goal Friday, Dorsey’s attempt went wide right.
Duke escaped a couple of Nittany Lion chances in the 60th minute, but the Blue Devil defense was able to block both opportunities.
After knocking on the Duke door for most of the second half, Penn State was able to get on the board at the 71:23 mark as Mallory Weber found Rodriguez in front of the goal. Rodriguez took a couple of touches, got a little separation and hit the back right of the net to take a 1-0 advantage.
Duke added a couple of shots late in the match, but couldn’t get anything past a Nittany Lion defense that didn’t allow a goal in the entire NCAA Tournament.
For the match, Duke and Penn State each finished with 11 shots, but the Nittany Lions had the edge in shots on goal, 5-3. The Blue Devils were held without a corner kick for only the second time all season (Notre Dame).
Dorsey led Duke with a team-high four shots.
It marks the second straight national championship that Duke has lost by a ledger of 1-0 as the Blue Devils lost to Stanford in 2011.
Duke should be back strong in 2016 as the Blue Devils lose only one senior starter, Kara Wilson, and welcomes in a standout recruiting class to the mix.