ACC soccer postseason kicks off

Shane Lardinois,
Shane Lardinois,
Shane Lardinois,

Kip Coons, TSN Correspondent

DURHAM, N.C. – A year ago, Duke used its absence from the ACC tournament to refocus its energy in the postseason.

The Blue Devils went on an unprecedented run through the NCAA tournament and made it all the way to the championship game before falling to Penn State.

Now Duke coach Robbie Church is hoping to duplicate that mind-set.

The third-seeded Blue Devils crashed out of the ACC tournament Sunday when they were eliminated on penalty kicks by sixth-seeded Florida State after the teams played to a 1-1 tie in 110 minutes of regulation and overtimes.

Junior midfielder Ashton Miller scored on a 28-yard strike for Duke (12-4-3) in the 32nd minute for her third goal of the season, but freshman forward Deyna Castellanos equalized just over two minutes into the second half on a one-touch volley from 25 yards.

“That was a world-class goal,” Church said.

That was a fitting description, because Castellanos had missed FSU’s previous nine games while playing for her native Venezuela in the Under-17 World Cup in Jordan.

Castellanos, who got her team-leading sixth goal for FSU, scored five in the U-17 World Cup to claim the Bronze Boot as the third-leading scorer.

Venezuela would advance to the medal rounds and finish fourth.

Elsewhere in the ACC tournament, fourth-seeded North Carolina shut out fifth-seeded Virginia 3-0 at Chapel Hill, and top-seeded Notre Dame blanked eighth-seeded N.C. State 1-0 at South Bend, Ind.

Second-seeded Clemson advanced past seventh-seeded Miami 5-4 on penalty kicks after the teams played to a 1-1 tie at Clemson.

UNC and Notre Dame will meet in the ACC semifinals at Charleston, S.C., at 5:30 p.m. Friday, with Clemson taking on Florida State at 8 p.m.

The championship game is set for noon Sunday.

Duke meanwhile won’t play again for two weeks, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Bids will be announced at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 7 on

“We’ve been in this situation before, gone out early in some of these things, but I think the rest for us will be very beneficial,” Church said.

He added, “It’s just frustrating to see how we’ve come up short here at the end of the year.”

Duke had a chance to wrap up the ACC regular-season title last Thursday, but a 1-0 loss to visiting Clemson cost the Blue Devils that banner.

Duke had also lost 1-0 at Florida State 10 days previously.

The Blue Devils expected another defensive struggle Sunday with the Seminoles (12-3-3) but couldn’t keep the upper hand after having the run of play in the first half, when they took the lead.

FSU outshot Duke 11-1 in the second half en route to a 17-8 shot advantage.

“They kept possession of the ball offensively, and we didn’t have the ball as much,” Church said.

“We only had one shot, but also we were really dangerous. … It didn’t really feel like it was one shot.”

FSU coach Mark Krikorian said the Seminoles tried to increase the tempo of the game in the second half with higher defensive pressure.

“If you’re playing against Duke and you’re letting them have the ball, you’re going to do an awful lot of defending and an awful lot of chasing,” he said.

Both teams had good chances to get a go-ahead goal.

Duke’s Imani Dorsey got on the end of a through ball in the 54th minute, but FSU’s Miller came off her line to snuff the shot for one of her three saves.

Duke goalkeeper EJ Proctor matched her career high with 10 saves, including back-to-back attempts in the 82nd minute when she deflected a drive by Castellanos off the crossbar and then caught Kaycie Tillman’s header on the rebound.

The Blue Devils also got a little lucky.

In the final seconds of the first overtime, Tillman ran down a slotted pass from Natalia Kuikka but couldn’t get full control and rolled her attempt inches wide of the right post.

The penalty kick shootout would decide matters, however.

Duke, shooting first, missed its first three attempts before Olivia Erlbeck and Malinda Allen found the range.

Proctor saved Castellanos’ attempt, and another was off frame, but Kirsten Crowley and Kuikka converted.

Connolly, a sophomore midfielder from Cork, Ireland, broke the 2-2 tie with the final kick in the round of five.

“I’ll take responsibility for the PKs,” Church said.

“Maybe we should have started training them a bit earlier. We’ve trained three or four times on PKs. So I think it’s my fault we probably didn’t start a little earlier. … But this is very good because we have a free NCAA PK opportunity. We go through that pressure, and that’s going to help us down the road if it happens again. We’ve been through that. We know EJ’s going to save one or two. We’ve got to be confident, step up there and read the keeper a little bit.”

However, if the Blue Devils lose another shootout along the way, there won’t be any second chances.

UNC 3, Virginia 0

Madison Schultz, Sarah Ashley Firstenberg, and Julia Ashley scored for host UNC, which beat a top-10 ranked team for the second time in four days in UVa (13-4-2), ranked seventh nationally.

The Tar Heels had beaten eighth-ranked Florida State last Thursday 1-0.

The Tar Heels (12-3-3) earned their first ACC tournament win since the 2013 quarterfinal round and their first win over the Cavaliers since 2010.

Schultz and Firstenberg scored their second goals of the season on hustle plays after coming up with steals.

Ashley’s goal, a header off a corner kick, was her first of the season.

Notre Dame 1, N.C. State 0

Kaitlin Klawunder scored on the rebound of a header by Karin Muya in the 88th minute to send the top-seeded Irish (13-2-4) over the Wolfpack, which was appearing in its first ACC tournament since 2006.

It was Klawunder’s third goal of the season.

N.C. State (10-8-1) outshot Notre Dame 11-6, but Irish goalkeeper Kaela Little made six saves.

Sydney Wootten had two for the Wolfpack.

Although unranked in the latest polls, N.C. State remains in the running for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.

ACC men’s field set

The field is set for the ACC Men’s Soccer Championship, which begins Wednesday with four first-round matches at the higher seeds.

Only one of the first-round games – Duke at Notre Dame – is a rematch of a meeting from the regular season.

Duke topped Notre Dame 2-1 in double overtime 12 days ago at Durham.

The first-round matches, all set for 7 p.m.:

Match 1 – #9 Virginia Tech (10-4-3, 3-4-1) at #8 Boston College (7-7-2, 3-3-2).

Match 2 – #12 Pittsburgh (2-12-3, 0-6-2) at #5 Syracuse (10-3-3, 3-2-3).

Match 3 – #11 N.C. State (5-11-0, 1-7-0) at #6 Virginia (9-2-5, 3-2-3).

Match 4 – #10 Duke (7-7-2, 2-5-1) at #7 Notre Dame (10-5-2, 3-3-2).

The quarterfinals will be played at 1 p.m. Sunday:

Match 5 – Match 1 Winner at #1 North Carolina (11-2-3, 5-1-2).

Match 6 – Match 2 Winner at #4 Clemson (11-2-4, 4-1-3).

Match 7 – Match 3 Winner at #3 Louisville (11-4-2, 5-2-1).

Match 8 – Match 4 Winner at #2 Wake Forest (12-2-3, 5-1-2).