Niners Travel to No. 5 Duke on Sunday

CHARLOTTE, NC — The Charlotte 49ers women’s soccer team (0-2-1) hits the road to face No. 5 Duke on Sunday evening (August 28) at 6pm.


Duke is 3-0-0 to start the season and was ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll before dropping to No. 5 this week. The Blue Devils played a common opponent with Charlotte, defeating UNCG 3-1 last Sunday. Despite being in-state rivals, Duke and the Niners have only played each other seven times in the past, with the Blue Devils leading the series, 6-1. Duke hosted CLT in the 2016 NCAA Tournament in the last meeting between the two sides, with the previous meeting going back to 2002.


Charlotte lost a defensive battle with James Madison at home Thursday night, losing 1-0. The Dukes owned the CLT nearly two-to-one, but the Niners got five shots and limited JMU to just six — the fewest an opponent has attempted all season. Charlotte had the best chances of the game in the final 15 minutes, with Ariana Maybody putting a pair of shots on net that required saves by the JMU goalie.


Duke is led by head coach Robbie Church, the first head coach in Charlotte women’s soccer history. Church led the Niners for the first five seasons the team was around and compiled 66 wins in 106 games. Under his leadership, CLT won a Conference USA regular season championship and two C-USA Tournament titles, capped off with an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1998. It wasn’t just one appearance for the Niners as Charlotte defeated Carolina South 2-0 in the Queen City for a win in the Green and White’s first NCAA Tournament appearance.


Charlotte is entering a stretch of road games, with five of its next six away from home. The stretch begins Sunday with Duke and continues with another road game at an ACC opponent next Sunday at Virginia Tech. A home matchup with Coastal Carolina sees the Niners return to the friendly confines of Transamerica Field for one game before hitting the road to Gardner-Webb and Texas for a pair of Conference USA openers.

Emily Keck has started all three games in net for Charlotte and has racked up 19 saves in them. She had a season-opening nine saves at UNCG — the second-most of any Niner goaltender in their first game donning the blue and white, followed that up with a seven-save performance Sunday at home against Richmond and added three others. against JMU. Her 16 saves in the first two games are the most by any CLT goalkeeper in the first two appearances.


Hudson’s goal last Sunday against Richmond was her second in as many games with the Niners. She scored the season-opening goal six minutes into the first game at UNCG after taking a long ball down the court from the Niners’ halfcourt and repeated the same effort Sunday to earn the tie against the Spiders.


Charlotte has a wealth of experience returning to the field this season, with 24 letterwinners from the 2021 season returning in 2022 and only three leaving. Of the 11 starters, 10 are on the 2022 squad, with the only loss being the starting goalkeeper. Abby Stapleton. Two of the key returnees are second-team All-Conference-USA members Piper Viziorek and third-team honoree and last year’s Team MVP, Kristy Campbell.


CLT has five new players on the roster this season, consisting of four freshmen and one transfer. Hudson comes to Charlotte after spending the last three seasons at Barry, where she was a two-time All-Sunshine State Conference selection and an all-region player last season. Joining him in their first seasons wearing the Green and White are freshmen Bailey on Friday, Ayanna Parker, Maggie StephensAND Laura Cate Westerbeek.


CLT has the opportunity to host the USA Championship Conference this season, scheduled for November 2-6. The Niners have hosted the C-USA Championship five times before, most recently in 2016 when the Blue and White won the third C-USA Championship in program history.


Charlotte has a week off before another ACC road contest at Virginia Tech next Sunday (Sept. 4).

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