DURHAM – Duke women’s soccer All-American Michelle Cooper registered her school-record sixth brace of the season and the second-seeded Blue Devils defeated third-seeded South Carolina, 2-1, on Sunday evening at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C., to advance to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals.
Cooper, a native of Clarkston, Mich., continued her impressive sophomore season with 17 goals, 11 assists and a school-record 45 points. The Blue Devils improved to 15-4-3 overall, while the Gamecocks concluded their season with a 15-4-5 record.
How It Happened
• The Blue Devils had a great chance to open the match as freshman Kat Rader stole the ball from a Gamecock defender and had a one-v-one chance against their goalkeeper, but her shot was saved in the first two minutes.
• Duke broke through at the 11:44 mark as Delaney Graham made a great run down the sideline and crossed a perfect ball into the box where Kat Rader found Michelle Cooper, who half-volleyed a left-footed shot into the top left corner to give Duke a 1-0 advantage.
• After the first 45 minutes, the Blue Devils featured a 10-1 shot advantage and held 59 percent of the possession.
• Rader had a couple of excellent chances in the second half, but one went wide and Heather Hinz of South Carolina made a diving stop to her left on the other attempt.
• Cooper made it 2-0 for the Blue Devils at the 83:16 mark. Freshman Elle Piper blasted a ball down the left sideline where a Gamecock defender tried to kick the ball back to the goalkeeper, but Cooper beat her to the ball, went around the keeper and finished inside the near post for her sixth brace of the season.
• South Carolina added a goal in the 89th minute from Payton Patrick as the Gamecocks pressed forward.
• Duke concluded the match with a 19-9 shot advantage. For the second half, the Blue Devils held a 9-8 lead in shots.
• Michelle Cooper has now totaled a goal or assist in 28-of-39 career matches as a Blue Devil.
• With her sixth brace of the season, Cooper now owns the school record for most multi-goal performances in a season.
• With her four points on the night, Cooper now owns a school-record 45 points. She broke Laura Weinberg’s record of 44 from 2012.
• Cooper now owns 17 goals on the season, which ranks second on Duke’s single-season charts. She is one away from Kelly Walbert’s record of 18 from 1994.
• The Blue Devils moved to 5-0-1 in the NCAA Round of 16 matches played in Durham, N.C. Duke also improved to 28-3-1 in Durham in NCAA games.
• Duke reached 15 wins for the ninth time under head coach Robbie Church.
• The Blue Devils have advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the ninth time out of the last 11 years.
“First of all, congratulate University of South Carolina, phenomenal season. Shelly [Smith], Jamie [Smith], their staff do a phenomenal job with that program. It is kind of ironic that we opened with an exhibition game in August and then finish up. I thought we played a terrific first half. What a performance with a one-day turnover. There is no time during the season where we have that short of a recovery period. So as a coach, you’re wondering what is going to happen. I think we did a good job in our recovery, but just never know. The only problem was we scored one goal. That obviously, in our game, leaves the door open and a lot of things can happen. We were very glad to see Michelle’s [Cooper] second goal go in at that point. I thought it was a really good performance. I felt we were focused, and we worked extremely hard the whole match. These two beside me [Michelle Cooper and Mackenzie Pluck] set the tone for the pressure until the last minute, it was unfortunate to give up that last goal, because we have had so many clean sheets last three games. It starts with forwards, and they do so much work in pressuring the ball in counter pressure. When we lost the ball in the midfield, I thought we did a good job of locking down and the backs did a good job of reading Catherine Berry, is a handful: their No. 10 up front. I felt we did a really good job this whole weekend. We had two good set of forwards that we played against. And both their players did a wonderful job against us. A great performance and we’re excited to be in the Elite Eight. I think, our ninth time in 11 years, and three in a row. In the last two, we’ve been there and unfortunately come up short. We’ll put a very strong emphasis that when we go down [to Alabama] this one we win it. But Alabama is a very good program. Wes [Hart] has done a great job with that program this year. We’re looking forward to going into Tuscaloosa.” – Duke head coach Robbie Church
Duke will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face top-seeded Alabama on Friday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. (ET), in the quarterfinals. The winner will advance to the NCAA College Cup in Cary, N.C., Dec. 2 & 5.
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