It’s rare that an easy victory against an ACC bottom-feeder like Miami bears much, if any, significance.
This was the outlier.
Duke cruised past the Hurricanes 3-1 Sunday afternoon, clinching the No. 5 seed in the upcoming ACC tournament. Not only that, but the win marks head coach Robbie Church’s 250th with the program across 20 seasons.
Overall, Church has amassed 433 wins spanning 33 years as a men’s and women’s head coach, including 324 in 25 total years on the women’s side.
“Every win is great, every win is fun,” Church said. “I know I’m a very lucky person to be at Duke for 20 years. I’ve had an unbelievable staff over the years to work with and a lot of really good players. So we’re happy, because it’s a big win and puts us in the ACC tournament, puts us in a good seed. So we’re happy for it. Looking for some more—251 next Tuesday.”
The fifth-ranked Blue Devils (6-3-2, 4-2-2 in the ACC) entered the match having not scored for over 188 minutes, coming off back-to-back 1-0 losses to No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Florida State. But Duke didn’t take long to break that scoring drought.
In the 10th minute, junior Marykate McGuire passed between multiple Hurricane defenders to the right side of the box, where freshman Olivia Migli fired across to the bottom left corner of the net to put Duke ahead 1-0.
Less than five minutes later, the Blue Devils struck again, albeit in usual fashion. Senior Tess Boade, standing almost directly adjacent to the Hurricane goal, floated the ball up into the air in what seemed to be anything but a shot. However, the ball continued to slice backward until it flew right past the arms of Miami goalie Tyler Speaks and into the upper right corner of the net.
The two early goals are a promising sign for a Duke offense that has struggled to score in the first half all season, even if the scores came against a Hurricane team allowing 3.5 goals per contest.
“It gave us great confidence that we can find the back of the net,” Church said. “We’ve been creating opportunities against [North] Carolina and creating opportunities against Florida State—we haven’t finished them, so it’s always good to see the ball hit the back of the net for us…. Our key going forward in the [ACC] tournament is converting the opportunities that we get.”
The Blue Devils held their 2-0 edge through halftime. But right out of the break, Miami (0-9, 0-8) quickly threatened to make it a game.
In the 47th minute, Hurricane senior Michelle Giamportone launched a perfect cross right in front of the net, where redshirt freshman Jackie Koerwitz headed in the goal just past a diving Ruthie Jones to cut Miami’s deficit to 2-1.
Get Overtime, all Duke athletics
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
The score marked the Hurricanes’ first goal against Duke since 2012.
However, the Blue Devils immediately responded. Almost exactly a minute after Miami’s surprising score, McGuire rocketed a shot on the other end that bounced right off the hands of Speaks and directly to Migli, who promptly notched her second goal of the game to bring Duke’s lead back up to two.
Migli’s two-goal game brings her regular-season total to a team-leading four, while her eight points from those goals place second on the team.
“Olivia’s a goal-scorer—we knew that when we recruited her, and we’re very happy at where she is in her development,” Church said. “She’s worked hard. The really good thing about Olivia is she’s a forward who will defend. She’ll get back and cover players, and she does a good job of being a two-way player, which I think is really going to serve her well as we go forward.”
The Blue Devils will take on fourth-seeded Clemson Nov. 10 in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament—Duke defeated the Tigers 1-0 in the two teams’ lone matchup this season.
“We need rest, and then we’ll get some really needed practice time,” Church said. “Our girls are a really good practice team. Our staff does a really good job in practice of studying up and getting things that we need to work on…. There’s a number of things, both on the offensive side and defensive side.
“We’re going to hopefully be able to take a little time to do some set plays. Set plays are really important, both defensively and offensively, when you get into tournament time.”