Crosses and kicks: ACC weekly soccer notes

Duke Sports Information
Duke Sports Information
Duke Sports Information

Kip Coons, TSN Correspondent

DURHAM, N.C. – Fresh from the medal podium at the Rio Olympics, Rebecca Quinn rejoined the Duke women’s soccer team Sunday, and it was like she had never been away.

The senior from Toronto came off the bench to log 64 minutes at center back, anchoring the Blue Devils defense in a 2-0 shutout of Coastal Carolina.

Quinn took the spring semester off to train with the Canadian National Team and got a late start to the college season while earning a bronze medal in the recently concluded Olympics in Brazil.

That was the second time she took a leave of absence from Duke.

Quinn also spent the spring of 2015 with her national team only to end up the last player cut before the World Cup that Canada hosted last year.

She arrived in Durham on Friday after spending a few days at home and didn’t even have the benefit of a practice with her teammates before playing Sunday.

“But could you tell?” Duke coach Robbie Church asked.

The only thing that looked out of place was the No. 33 jersey Quinn had to wear because her usual No. 5 went missing, an oversight that Duke will soon correct.

“I think it was difficult taking that semester off for the World Cup and not making the roster,” Quinn said.

“But there was a lot of learning there, and I think it set me up well for taking the following semester off for the Olympics. I wouldn’t change that for the world. The bronze medal was definitely worth it.

“When we won it, I didn’t take it off my neck for probably four days.”

Since Quinn was last at Duke, the Blue Devils have gone to a new formation, a 3-5-2 with three central defenders, in favor of last year’s 4-2-3-1.

“The Canadian national team played three out of the back, too,” Quinn said.

“So that hasn’t changed too much. It will be good to get a little more familiar with it, but I think we got a good handle on it (Sunday).”

Quinn liked that there were more opportunities to move forward in the new alignment.

She took advantage by getting off four shots, forcing two saves, and was credited with the second assist on Duke’s second goal, a 19-yard strike by Ashton Miller.

Church said Quinn provided a steadying influence Sunday.

“She has these special qualities,” he said.

“She makes those difficult plays look easy. Just the savvy that she has from playing at a high level.

“The balls she plays, the speed of play she uses in the back, the ability to play on all surfaces. It’s a great boost for us to get a player like this to show up at this time of the year. She’s such a leader for us in the back.”

Quinn has been a defender throughout her Duke career but played in the midfield for Canada prior to the Olympics.

However, she was pressed into service at central defender in the Rio Games when the Canadians were hit by a rash of cards in group play.

Quinn ended up starting the last two pool games after entering the opener in the 22nd minute following an early red card to defender Shelina Zadorsky.

She came off the bench in the quarterfinal victory over France but did not play in the semifinal loss to Germany or the bronze-medal match against Brazil.

“It was great having that tournament expertise under my belt, and coming in for the red card, it was good for me to understand that experience and bring it back to Duke,” Quinn said.

“I mean, it was a little bit earlier than I expected to see. But that’s what we prepare for.”

Humes show form

Tucker Hume needed only eight minutes of the new season to make his presence felt for North Carolina.

A scant 8:03 after entering the season opener, Hume scored a goal in the Tar Heels’ 3-0 victory over Cal Poly last Friday.

Providing instant offense is nothing new for the 6-foot-5, 204-pound redshirt senior.

He led UNC with 11 goals and 27 points last year despite starting only four of 20 matches.

In fact, the UNC faithful have taken to calling the last 15 minutes of the first half “Tucker Time,” because that is the juncture when UNC coach Carlos Somoano rotates the rangy Texan into matches on the forward line.

And Hume often responds.

Four of his goals in 2015 came in “Tucker Time.”

“I just came on (and) tried to make an impact right away, keep the level high,” Hume said.

He took an entry pass deep in the penalty area from freshman midfielder Jeremy Kelly, held off a Cal Poly defender like a basketball power forward setting up on the low block, turned and fired a low shot into the corner of the net.

“As a big target forward, being in the box is definitely the place where I need to be,” Hume said.

“Using my body well like that and just letting the ball roll across my body, it’s a good play for someone like me, my size.”

“He’s so big and hard to get around, he just used his body very wisely on that play,” Somoano said.

“And it’s very hard to predict when that shot is coming. He pulled the trigger and caught everybody off guard and just tucked it away.”

The new wrinkle for Hume this year is that for the first time he and twin brother Walker are on the field together.

They transferred from Rollins College in Florida three years ago, and both were supposed to redshirt in 2014.

However, Walker was pressed into service at defender when injuries thinned the ranks.

He had to sit out last year when he broke his foot before the season.

“It was awesome getting back out here, not only with Tuck, but with the rest of the team and starting off what could be an unbelievable season for the UNC Tar Heels,” said Walker, who starts at left defender.

“I was glad to get back out there with him, first ever time playing in a Carolina uniform on Fetzer Field with him. So it was special.”

Rivalry week

Because of the unbalanced schedules, each ACC team, men and women, don’t play three league opponents every year.

This year’s absences from the conference schedules include the Duke-North Carolina women’s and N.C. State-North Carolina men’s match-ups.

However, those schools will play “non-conference” games that won’t count in the league standings but will help decide local bragging rights.

Both games are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The eighth-ranked UNC women (3-0) will play at seventh-ranked Duke (3-1) in the first round of the Duke Nike Classic, a high-powered tournament that also includes Villanova and No. 17 Minnesota.

Meanwhile the N.C. State men (1-1), who received enough votes to be 27th in the coaches’ poll, visit third-ranked UNC (2-0).

Duke senior captain Christina Gibbons, who played for Cardinal Gibbons High in Raleigh and grew up watching these rivalries, probably spoke for all of the players involved.

“The only thing that changes is the date,” Gibbons said.

“It’s a little bit earlier, but nothing else changes. Our preparation will still be the same. We’re still going to come out fired up.  It’s a rivalry.  I don’t think you have to say anything other than it’s UNC, and everyone is going to be up for it.”

Blue Devils earn hardware

Duke laid claim to the championship of the John Rennie Nike Invitational last weekend, the tournament named in honor of the Blue Devils’ former men’s coach, who attended both of their games.

Duke tied San Diego 1-1 on Friday before routing UNC Asheville 5-1 on Sunday. Freshman midfielder Suniel Veerakone came away with the tournament MVP trophy after he scored goals on two free kicks, each from about 25 yards out, to break open the win over UNCA in the second half.

“Preseason I’ve been practicing that exact same spot,” Veerakone said.

“Me and Tomo (Ryan Thompson) have been switching on and off. He gave me the confidence. He said, ‘You know what to do with it. Just put it in the back of the net.’”

“About time we had someone who could score goals like that,” said Duke coach John Kerr, whose Blue Devils (1-0-1) will visit No. 16 UCLA on Friday.

“We create a lot of free kicks in the offense. Now we’ve got someone who can punish other teams.”

Heinsohn gets call

Duke freshman goalkeeper Brooke Heinsohn was among 23 players who have been called into training camp for the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team.

The camp will run from Sept. 1-19 at Carson, Calif., and will include matches against Brazil, England, and Korea in the NTC Invitational.

The U.S. team is preparing for the U-20 World Cup (Nov. 13-Dec. 3) in Papua, New Guinea. Brazil and Korea are also in the 16-team field.

U.S. coach Michelle French will pick her roster for the NTC during camp and must submit her final 21-player World Cup roster, which must include three goalkeepers, by FIFA’s Nov. 3 deadline.

Heinsohn and many other players trying out for the U.S. team will redshirt this fall to preserve a fourth year of college eligibility.

North Carolina junior forward Jessie Scarpa and freshman defender Taylor Otto, who is from Apex, are among the six players with ACC ties on the camp roster.

The others are defenders Sabrina Flores and Natalie Jacobs of Notre Dame, and midfielder Courtney Peterson of Virginia.

About Peter Koutroumpis 1598 Articles
Peter Koutroumpis is an alumnus of the University of Toronto and Bowling Green State University. Living in the Raleigh area, he has been involved and employed in organized sport and competition as a player, official, teacher, coach, administrator, and volunteer. With more than 20 years of experience in sport event management and programming, as Owner and Managing Editor of the Triangle Sports Network, a set of online sports news sites, he provides a variety of perspectives on the amateur and professional sports landscape including the NCAA, NHL, NBA, PGA, and LPGA, and more.