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Women’s College Soccer. Duke Has Some Big Shoes To Fill Entering The 2023 Season.

The Blue Devils Return A Solid Core Supplemented By Another Highly Regarded Recruiting Class.

Coach – Robbie Church – 23rd season
Conference – Atlantic Coast Conference
2022 Record – 15-5-3 overall, 6-2-2 in conference
2022 National Ranking – Number 6 United Soccer Coaches. Number 6 College Soccer News
Five Year Win Total
2022 – 15
2021 – 16
2020 – 12
2019 – 9
2018- 16
Key Departures

Michele Cooper – Forward – 2022 Hermann Trophy Winner. 2022 and 2021 United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News All-American. 2022 and 2021 All-ACC First Team member. Had 31 goals and 16 assists in two seasons at Duke. Entered the professional ranks after her sophomore season and was the number two overall selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft.

Mackenzie Pluck – Midfielder – Played in a school record 107 contests with 78 starts. Had 21 career goals and 29 career assists over five seasons.

Delaney Graham – Midfielder – Appeared in 105 contests with a school-record 103 starts over five seasons. A five year starter. Had four career goals and 19 career assists. Multi-year United Soccer Coaches All-Atlantic Region selection. 2022 All-ACC selection. 2020 All-ACC Third Team selection. 2019 All-ACC Second Team selection.

Sophie Jones – Midfielder – Appeared in and started 75 contests over four seasons. Had five career goals and eight career assists. 2022 United Soccer Coaches Second Team All-American. 2022 All-ACC Second Team. 2021 All-ACC Second Team selection. 2020 All-ACC First Team selection. 2019 All-ACC First Team honoree.

Jenna Royson – Midfielder – Played in 23 games with 23 starts during the 2022 season as a graduate student at Duke. Prior to that was a starter at Georgetown for four seasons. three-year starter at Georgetown with 59 career appearances and 45 starts. A 2019 and 2029 All-Big East Second team selection at Georgetown.

Ruthie Jones – Goalkeeper – A three-year starter with 68 appearances and 64 starts over four seasons. 2022 All-ACC Second Team selection. 2021 All-ACC First Team. 2021 United Soccer Coaches All-Atlantic Region Second Team. Had a 0.76 career goals-against-average at Duke with 24 career shutouts.

Emmy Duerr – Forward – Appeared in 57 games with 4 starts over four seasons. Had four career goals and two career assists. Named the Most Inspirational Player and received the Coaches Award in 2022.
2023 Outlook

Duke has been solid under Robbie Church for two decades (287-140-63 over the past 22 seasons). The Blue Devils have played their way into the Elite Eight for nine out of the past 12 seasons including the last three in a row.

Church stated, “We’ve had a lot of turnover in our roster with losing a big graduating class and then Michelle (Cooper) turning professional.” You don’t lose the talent and experience on both sides of the ball that Duke has due to the departure of Hermann Trophy and All-American forward Michelle Cooper, midfielders Delaney Graham, Sophie Jones and Mackenzie Pluck, defender Jenna Royson and goalkeeper Ruthie Jones without having some reloading to do.

The Blue Devils have coped with gaps to fill in the past, although the void that exists heading into the 2023 campaign is larger than the average. Impact playmakers like Cooper, 31 goals and 16 assists over two seasons, are not easy to come by. Throw in what will again be a very challenging slate of opponents and the potential exists for a learning curve and a different set of challenges for Church and his staff than they faced heading into the 2022 season.

Regardless the cupboard is far from bare in Durham and Duke is again bringing on board a highly regarded recruiting class. On the positive side of the ledger, sophomore Kat Rader (12g 5a), the 2022 ACC Freshman of the Year, All-ACC Second Team selection and College Soccer News 2022 All-Freshman First Team honoree, returns to power the attack up-top. The emergence of another goal scorer to compliment Rader and add balance to the attack is among the critical success factors for Duke in 2023. Freshmen Mia Minestrella and Madison Foxhoven are among the newcomers who could add additional punch to the offense depending on how well they make the transition to the college game.

Seniors Olivia Migli (1g, 4a), a three-year starter with 11 career goals and 5 career assists, and Maggie Graham (4g, 6a), 64 career appearances and 34 career starts with 7 goals and 11 assists, and sophomore Devin Lynch (0g, 3a) who appeared in 21 games last year with 6 starts are back to provide a very solid foundation upon which to reload the midfield. Seniors Nicky Chico, Grace Watkins (1g, 0a) and Baleigh Bruster and sophomores Carina Lageyre and Evan Taylor are among other returning midfielders who will be in the mix for a greater role. Graduate Student transfer Kati Druzina, a starter at Notre Dame for the past two seasons, is a positive addition with the experience to make an immediate contribution in the midfield or elsewhere on the pitch.

Seniors Emily Royson (0g, 3a), a three year starter, and Katie Groff (2g, 5a), a two-year starter, and sophomore Elle Piper (1g, 1a) who appeared 22 games with 5 starts last year return to anchor the backline. Juniors Kelly Wilson and Dieynaba Ndaw are among other returning backs who will be in the hunt for additional minutes in the back in 2023. Highly regarded freshman defender Cameron Roller is among the newcomers with the athleticism to make an immediate contribution.

The departure of Ruthie Jones, a three-year starter in goal with an impressive 0.76 career goals-against-average, means that a new face will be between the pipes at Duke in 2023. Transfer Leah Freeman, a three-year starter and multi-year All-Pac 12 selection at Oregon with two-years of eligibility remaining, could prove to be just what the doctor ordered in regard to filling the void that exists due to the loss of Jones. Sophomore Caroline Duffy who appeared in five contests last year also returns in goal.

Senior leadership, the emergence of another goal scorer, the continued development and ability of the sophomores to assume a greater role, and the ability of the newcomers to add value sooner rather than later look to be key factors for the Blue Devils in 2023. There are several question marks and it may take a while for everyone to mesh. In the meantime, the returning core may be good enough to carry the team until others catch up.

The bottom line is that Duke will again be a strong team and formidable opponent – just maybe not as strong or formidable as the 2022 squad.
Newcomers – Robbie Church stated, “They all excel in the classroom and are excellent on the soccer field. Athletically, all will bring something different to our team. One of the things that impressed me the most about this group is their tremendous work ethic and how they have continued to get better since they made a commitment to Duke.”

Sam Bodensteiner – Defender – Inverness, Illinois, Fremd High School – Played for the Sockers FC. Invited to the Mid-America Talent ID in 2021. Was a three-year starter on the Fremd High School basketball team.

Kiera Clemens – Midfielder – Raleigh, North Carolina – Crossroads Flex High School – Played for the NC Courage Girls Development Academy. Trained at multiple U.S. U-17 and U-15 National Team camps.

Madison Foxhoven – Forward – Calabasas, California – Viewpoint School – Played for LAFC So Cal ECNL. Top-10 leading scorer nationally, Development Academy 2019-2020. Led LAFC SoCal in both goals and assists for three seasons. First Team All-Stae as a junior at Viewpoint School.

Phoebe Goldthwaite – Midfielder – Durham, North Carolina – Durham Academy – Played for NC Courage Development Academy. Three-time Mid-Atlantic First Team selection.

Kaeden Koons-Perdikis – Defender – Chevy Chase, Maryland – Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School. Played for Bethesda SC. Selected to play in the 2022 High School All-American Game. 2021 Washington Post First-Team All Met and All-State. Team captain at Georgetown Visitation.

Mia Minestrella – Forward – Redondo Beach, California – Redondo Union – Played for Beach FC. Daily Breeze Player of the Year as a sophomore and junior. D2 CIF Player of the Year as a junior. All-CIF First Team as a junior. Named alternate for the U.S. U-20 Women’s World Cup squad in 2022.

Cameron Roller – Defender – Sherman, Texas – Gunter High School – Played for Solar Soccer Club. Member and captain of the United States 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup squad. Solar Soccer Player of the Conference (2021-2022).

Bianca Dominguez – Goalkeeper – Hercules, California – Hercules High School – Played for Bay Area Surf ECNL in Northern California in the summer of 2022. Played for Girls Academy League (2020-2022). Participated in three U.S. Youth National Team Identification camps from 2019-2021.

Leah Freeman – Goalkeeper – Berkeley, California – Berkeley High School – A senior transfer from Oregon where she was a three-year starter. Had 18 shutouts and a 1.05 goals against average at Oregon. Led the Pac-12 in saves (114) and saves per game (6.71) in 2022. Was the 2022 Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year. 2022 and 2021 All-Pac-12 First Team selection. 2022 and 2021 United Soccer Coaches All-Pacific Region First Team selection. All-Pac 12 Third Team selection as a freshman in 2020.

Kati Druzina -Midfielder – Kirtland, Ohio – Lake Catholic High School – A graduate student transfer from Notre Dame where she was a starter in 2021 and 2022 with 59 career appearances and 49 career starts. She had one goal and eight assists during three seasons at Notre Dame. cawith 59 twos

Picture from Duke Athletics

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Posted in 2023 Team Reviews

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