CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – UNC Greensboro freshman Tabitha Padgett scored her first career goal in the 24th minute and keeper Kelsey Kearney and the UNCG defense made the lead stand as the Spartans downed No. 11 Duke on Friday night, 1-0 at the Carolina Nike Classic at Fetzer Field.
With the sides locked in an early defensive struggle, UNCG senior Heather Mitrisin sent a ball through the Blue Devil defense that caught Padgett in stride. The rookie forward easily beat Duke keeper Emily Nahas one-on-one to give the Spartans (1-1) the only goal they would need.
Duke (1-1) had several chances to find the equalizer in the first half, but the Spartan defense held tight. The Blue Devils' Chelsea Canepa had perhaps the best looks, getting off a pair of close-range shots off a corner kick in the 30th minute. But a UNCG defender knocked down the first one and Kearney came up with a save on the second to keep Duke off the board.
The Devils' first good chance – and the first shot of the game for either side – came in the 15th minute, when Carey Goodman drew a foul just outside the 18-yard box to give Duke a free kick. Jane Alukonis took the kick and put a shot on frame, but Kearney was there to knock it down.
Rebecca Allen had another solid shot for the Devils from just outside the box in 24th minute, but Kearney made the save near post.
With the Spartans holding the one-goal advantage at the half, Duke turned up the offensive pressure after the break. Canepa had another brilliant scoring chance just minutes into the second stanza, but Kearney made a nice save on a point-blank shot in the 48th minute, pushing it just wide.
The Blue Devils continued to control the run of play for most of the second half. UNCG dodged another bullet in the 71st minute, when Cody Newman's shot from 25 yards out sailed just inches over the crossbar.
The Spartans didn't get a shot off in the second half until the 88th minute, when Jenn Partenheimer ripped a shot just high. UNCG had a good look in the 81st minute when Jen Rincon sent a cross in from the right wing, but the ball was just out of Padgett's reach at the left corner of the box.
Duke continued to pepper Kearney late in the game, with Nicole Lipp booming a shot off a corner kick that the sophomore keeper was able to punch away. Lipp had another close call with just under two minutes left, as her rocket shot from 25 yards out was just high and wide.
The teams weathered a one-hour, nine-minute lightning delay. With 13:47 left in the contest, play was halted and the field and stadium cleared. Play finally resumed at 7:44 p.m. with the Spartans needing to hold off the Devils for just 14 more minutes to pick up their second win over a ranked opponent in two seasons. UNCG knocked off No. 15 Santa Clara by a 1-0 score last season.
Kearney finished with nine saves in recording her 12th career
shutout and first this season.
Duke held a 22-5 advantage in shots and took nine corner kicks to just one for UNCG.
In knocking off the nation's 11th-ranked team, UNCG beat its highest-ranked opponent since taking down then-No. 9 Duke 2-0 during the 2000 season.
"I'm proud of the team, we played very well," UNCG coach Eddie Radwanski said. "We felt like we gave one away a little bit Sunday (a 2-1 loss to Wake Forest). We talked about winning the psychological battle, and I think we did that by closing out the first half and then coming back and closing out the second half after the delay."
The Spartans will have just two days to savor the big win, as UNCG will take on defending national champion and top-ranked North Carolina in the final game of the Carolina Nike Classic at 3 p.m. Sunday.
UNC Greensboro (1-1-0) vs. Duke (1-1-0)
Date: Aug 28, 2009 Attendance: 587
Weather: 88 degrees, partly cloudy, UV index 5 (moderate)
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
UNC Greensboro 1 0 1
Duke 0 0 0
1 23:47 UNCG Tabitha Padgett (1) (Heather Mitrisin) - through ball beats goalie one on one
Shots: UNC Greensboro 5, Duke 22
Saves: UNC Greensboro 9 (Kelsey Kearney 9), Duke 1 (Emily Nahas 1)
- UNCG -