Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame women's soccer prepares for key road matchup with Duke

Irish senior midfielder Ellie Ospeck watches as freshman Morgan Roy makes a pass during Notre Dame's 4-1 defeat of Butler at Alumni Stadium on Aug. 24, 2023.

This Thursday, Notre Dame women’s soccer will head to North Carolina for their first road conference test of the season.

Their opponent will be one Irish soccer fans are plenty familiar with: the Duke Blue Devils. Notre Dame women’s soccer has played the Blue Devils 20 times, with plenty of fireworks throughout the matchup’s history.

Most notably though, the clash has been defined by its parity. Notre Dame holds a slight 9-8-3 advantage overall, but hasn’t defeated Duke since 2015. The contest’s last three editions either ended in draws or went to overtime. The Irish hold a slight 37-30 goals advantage in the head-to-head history as well.

Thursday’s matchup will also be notable for its stakes in the NCAA tournament seeding race. Both the Irish and Blue Devils currently sit in the national top 20, but neither rank higher than 10. Both squads have endured some early-season hiccups (Notre Dame was held to a draw by unranked Milwaukee, Duke was blown out 4-0 by No. 2 Stanford) and no doubt will be looking to put a statement win on their respective resumes. And with both teams 1-0 in conference play, keeping an unbeaten streak alive heading deeper into the ACC schedule wouldn’t be a bad bonus either.

Notre Dame and Duke will each be without their respective MVP from last year’s campaign. The Irish’s Korbin Albert and the Blue Devils’ Michelle Cooper represented two-thirds of last season’s Mac Hermann Trophy (college soccer’s Heisman equivalent) ceremony. 

While Albert’s feats are well known to Notre Dame fans, Cooper’s (who won the award) are just as impressive, if not more. The then-sophomore racked up 19 goals to go with 11 assists, en route to enrolling in the NWSL Draft early and earning the No. 2 pick.

Without Cooper in the fold, Duke’s attack has been a little more stop-and-start in 2023. Kat Rader has four goals on the young season, but she’s one of just three players to have scored multiple times.

The Blue Devil defense, led by Oregon transfer goalkeeper Leah Freeman, has emerged as one of the ACC’s top units. Duke hasn’t conceded a goal in its last three matches and hasn’t conceded at home since August. They’ve conceded just eight goals on the season, half of which came in the aforementioned drubbing against Stanford.

The schedule won’t get easier for the Irish after they leave Durham either. Notre Dame will stay on the road for the weekend, traveling to Pennsylvania for an away matchup against Pitt. The Panthers have already amassed an 8-1 record in 2023, and were one of just two teams to beat the Irish in conference play last season. 

Notre Dame women’s soccer will be back in action on Thursday night against Duke. The match is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.

Sign up for our Observer Sports newsletter!Have an Irish sports question? Ask it for our Observer Sports mailbag!