Duke women’s soccer team tops Stanford, advances to semifinals in Cary

News reports

Duke sophomore goalkeeper EJ Proctor stopped a pair of penalty kicks and the Blue Devils made three of their four to advance past top-seeded Stanford in a penalty kick shootout in the NCAA Women’s Soccer quarterfinals Friday night at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium in Stanford, Calif. Duke advanced to the NCAA semifinals for the third time in program history with the 3-2 shootout victory.

The Blue Devils will play the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed Florida State in the NCAA semifinals Friday in Cary. The game will be televised live by ESPNU and will be played either at 5 p.m., or 7:30 p.m.

“First, a big congratulations on a phenomenal program, team and year that Stanford has,” said Duke coach Robbie Church. “Obviously they are one of the top programs in the country, they are so well-coached and organized with great players. We are just very, very fortunate to be able to go forward, but we stayed organized the whole time. We were hard to break down, worked hard defensively, we tried to catch them on the counter which we did with the first goal…very, very proud of our team and how far they’ve come this season.”

Toni Payne netted Duke’s lone goal in the game early in the first half and Proctor finished with seven saves in 110 minutes of action that ended in a 1-1 draw. Stanford (19-2-2) held a 22-8 advantage in shots, but the two teams created equal quality scoring chances throughout the game.

Proctor stopped the first Stanford penalty and forced the second wide to give the Blue Devils an early cushion. Christina Gibbons, Chelsea Burns and Casey Martinez all finished their chances, forcing Stanford to make its final attempt. Proctor had other ideas, diving to her left to make the stop and send Duke back to the College Cup.

“This game, specifically, scoring early is always nice but at the same time it puts more pressure [on us] to defend the rest of the game,” commented Proctor. “Throughout the season we’ve just improved every game, from our technical abilities to being able to just fight to the end of the game. I think that’s why we came out with this one.”

Duke (13-5-5) controlled the early possession with crisp passing through the back and into the midfield, but couldn’t find any openings in the Cardinal defense. Stanford managed the first shot, but the Blue Devils backline was outstanding in the early going in keeping the Cardinal in front of them and forcing low percentage shots.

Duke tied Florida State, which defeated Texas A&M 5-0 in its quarterfinal game, 0-0 during the regular season. It will be the first meeting between the two teams in NCAA tournament action.