GREENVILLE, N.C. – The East Carolina soccer team lost 1-0 to the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils on Thursday in front of a record crowd at Johnson Stadium. Sophie Jones’s goal in the sixth minute proved to be the difference as the Blue Devils were able to fend off a passionate Pirates squad.

Jones’s goal, early in the first half, came off of a 28-yard arcing bomb from the Duke senior. The right-footed shot from the left half of the pitch lofted over everyone on the field, including goalkeeper Maeve English, and tucked away in the right corner of the net.

Despite 14 more shots, including six more on target, the Pirates defense held steady. English racked up six saves, including five in the second half. Several of English’s second-half saves stopped deserving goals, with diving efforts keeping the ball out of the goal and the margin held to one.

On the offensive side, the Pirates didn’t find much success in terms of shots – registering only one, and none on goal – but put the pressure on Duke. ECU earned three corners, with two coming in the second half; but perhaps the most notable chance came with the final seconds ticking off of the clock, when a long ball over the top bounced tantalizingly into the box before Duke keeper Ruthie Jones was able to corral it from the oncoming Pirates attack.

Despite being down two players (Michelle Cooper and Carina Lageyre) in competition at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the Blue Devils still entered the game stocked with talent – and the No. 2 ranking in the nation. The Pirates showed tactical discipline, denying Duke space and quality chances – and even finding opportunities to push forward on the offensive end. ECU showed energy on the pitch, certainly fueled by the record crowd at Johnson Stadium. Head Coach Gary Higgins put out a call earlier in the week for a big showing, and Pirate Nation delivered to the tune of 1,335 in attendance, 48 more than the previous best against Western Carolina back in 2015.

Up Next
No respite for the Pirates, as East Carolina heads on the road for a tilt with the No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, S.C. on Sunday at 2 p.m. The game will be available for streaming on SECN+.

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