After Texas clinched a win over Clemson in penalty kicks in the second round of the NCAA Championships on Friday, Duke wasn’t prepared to give Texas any chance of an upset on Sunday.
The No. 1 Blue Devils ran away with the contest early on Sunday afternoon in Durham, North Carolina, shutting out Texas, 3-0. The Longhorns’ historic run came to a close one game shy of an appearance in the Elite Eight.
“I’m really proud,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “It’s been a wonderful group to coach and train this season, a tremendous amount of heart. And we’re going to take every ounce of this
experience and learn from it.”
It was all Duke from the opening kick. After applying early pressure, All-American forward Imani Dorsey collected a deep pass over the top and found the back of the net just three minutes into the contest.
The early lead added momentum that Texas could not afford, as one of the nation’s premier programs brought too much pressure to the orange and white backline. Later in the first half, the Longhorns began to find some offensive rhythm with a pair of looks, but were dissuaded by Duke junior forward Kayla McCoy, who made it a two-score game on a diving header off of a cross in the box.
“I was really impressed by them,” Kelly said. “I thought we were just a little tentative at the beginning of the match and our youthfulness showed.”
Coming out of the second half, Texas brought a new intensity as it fought to keep its season alive. The team’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Cyera Hintzen, saw a number of opportunities narrowly miss, but the Longhorns were unable to retain possession for any length of time as they were outshot 14-6 by the Blue Devils.
A third goal midway through the half proved to be the final nail in the coffin as Duke advanced to the Elite Eight for the third consecutive year, having outscored its opponents 11-0 over the first three rounds.
In addition to the stiff competition, Kelly acknowledged that fatigue may have played a role in her team’s below-average performance.
“(Hintzen) had a great opportunity in the first 20 minutes,” Kelly said. “Those usually go in the back of the net. Her and (freshman forward) Haley Berg and (redshirt freshman forward) Cydney Billups were playing wonderful soccer. Those young ladies are exhausted.”
Even with the loss, Texas sits in far better position this offseason than it did a year ago. After a record setting 11-game undefeated stretch and deep postseason run, the program has leapt back into the national conversation. And with only two graduating seniors, the Longhorns should be back in the tournament conversation in 2018.