GREENVILLE, N.C. — The East Carolina women’s soccer team opens up regular season play by hosting the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils at Johnson Stadium on Thursday evening.

The game is slated to kick off at 7 p.m. Attendance is free to the public and the game will be available for streaming on ESPN+. The Pirates closed out the preseason on Saturday with a 1-1 draw with the Longwood Lancers in an exhibition match. Carsen Parker tallied the lone goal for ECU.

Duke enters the season boasting the second spot in the United Soccer Coaches poll. This comes on the heels of a season in which the Blue Devils finished with the No. 2 rating in the NCAA Soccer RPI and earned a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. Despite the home-field advantage, Duke was upset at home by the formidable, and 2020 National Champion, Santa Clara Broncos.

Duke returns some stars from that quarterfinal team. Leading goal scorer Michelle Cooper (12 goals in 2021) is back. As is goalkeeper Ruthie Jones; and top assisting player Mackenzie Pluck (8 assists in 2021). Fortunately for the Pirates, Cooper, along with freshman midfielder Carina Legeyre will be absent for the Blue Devils as they compete for the U-20 US Women’s National Team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

East Carolina has faced Duke just once before – last season in a 5-0 defeat at Duke’s venerable Koskinen Stadium.

“We are so excited to be kicking off our 2022 regular season at home in Johnson Stadium on Thursday night,” said new head coach Gary Higgins. “We are so thankful to have such a beautiful facility here at ECU, and we hope that we can have a great crowd out there supporting us on Thursday evening.

“Obviously, we have a very tough task ahead, with Duke being ranked #2 in the nation and #1 in the ACC, but we are grateful for the opportunity to compete against such a talented squad. Our players are excited for the challenge ahead and will play with an immense amount of passion and discipline.

“I feel our players are improving every day and our goal is to fight with everything we have and make Pirate nation proud. I hope to see everyone out there supporting our ladies. Thanks, and Go Pirates!”

For more information on ECU, the soccer team follows @ECUSoc on Twitter and Instagram or ECU Soccer on Facebook.

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