September 30, 2017

Women’s soccer drops 3-2 heartbreaker to Blue Devils

By Jordan Shim–

Women’s soccer dropped a heartbreaker to fourth-ranked Duke, 3-2, in double overtime.

Ella Stephens gave the visitors the lead before Emina Ekic, and Inger-Katrine Bjerke scored to for the Louisville. Taylor Racioppi equalized with 15 minutes to go, then Ashton Miller found the winner in the 102nd to steal a crucial conference win.

“To be honest, I’m heartbroken for our kids,” Louisville coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes said. “We played excellent and went toe-to-toe with one of the top teams in the country. Super proud of our body of work, but we got to learn how to win these games. And that’s the next step for our team.”

Duke’s early dominance was expected. They sent waves of pressure which Louisville handled well. Just like the past four meetings, Louisville’s defense bent, but did not break. Their¬†pressure finally paid off in the 24th minute when Stephens gave the Blue Devils the lead. Her shot took a deflection off Gabby Vincent and slipped inside the right post.

Ferguson-Dayes focuses on the response of the team when they concede, and they roared back sending numbers forward themselves.

Ekic, Louisville’s impact player, found a way to get involved in another Cardinal goal. After running into the box, she initially lost control of the ball before regaining possession and turning past Taylor Mitchell. Mitchell tripped Ekic, and the referee pointed to the spot. The Louisville native stepped up and went left, leaving Duke goalkeeper EJ Proctor flat-footed.

“I know they were going to do that,” Ferguson-Dayes said. “They don’t quit. They’re resilient, and they’re tough. They believe they can win. I believe we can win, so that’s what they’re doing, I didn’t expect anything different.”

The Cards went into halftime, surprisingly, with momentum. Ekic equalized, and the defense held the Blue Devils to just four shots in the first half.

Louisville immediately came out of the break and took the lead off a corner kick. Ekic connected with Vincent on the cross, and Inger-Katrine Bjerke headed home to give the Cards the 2-1 lead.

Duke found the equalizer in the 75th minute via Racioppi. Kayla McCoy ran at her defender into the box and fired a low cross deep into the penalty area. Racioppi was there to tap the ball into the open net.

After both teams were even after the first overtime period, Duke found the winner in the 102nd minute. Louisville failed to clear the corner, and the ball fell for Miller to finish from close range.

“We took too much of a mental break and checked out a little bit. When they put the set piece back in, we were a little bit disorganized, and they scored off a deflection.”

The Cardinals are on the road to continue their conference schedule. Next up, they take on Clemson on Thursday, Oct. 5. Kickoff is slated to begin at 7 p.m.

You can follow Jordan on Twitter @TLCJordanShim.

Photo by Laurel Slaughter / The Louisville Cardinal 

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