Early-season tune-up meet awaits Duke fencing during Fall Break

Eight Blue Devils will not spend Fall Break sleeping in and relaxing. Instead, they will travel to Virginia to participate in a national fencing championship.What do you think?

Even though regular-season fencing action does not start until January, Duke head coach Alex Beguinet and eight of his fencers will hit the road this weekend to compete in the 2015 October North American Cup, which runs Friday through Monday at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Va. The four-day tournament is open to any United States Fencing Association competitive member and any foreign fencer with a current license from the International Fencing Federation.What do you think?

“[The tournament] is going to give us an idea about where [our fencers] are right now,” Beguinet said. “I know it’s a long way until January but time goes very fast. We’re going to be able to see the people who are going after a few weeks of work here and what we can do for them. It will give us the temperature of the fencers.”What do you think?

The squad traveling to Richmond consists mostly of underclassmen—two freshmen and four sophomores will join senior épée Ted Cho and junior foil Alexander Merriman. What do you think?

The épée category has five Blue Devil representatives—Cho, freshmen Camille Esnault and Bryn Hammarberg and sophomores Dakota Nollner and Alec Ajnsztajn.What do you think?

Sophomore Jan Maceczek—who won a bronze medal at the ACC Championships last year—and Merriman will participate in the foil category. Sophomore Haley Fisher—who ended the 2014 season with 46-12 regular-season record—is the only Duke saber competing in the tournament.What do you think?

As the lone senior among the Blue Devils hitting the road this weekend, Cho said he is ready to step into a leadership role this season.What do you think?

“I’ve been here for a while so I know the ins and outs of how to train effectively, how to schedule classes, how to get the most out of the Duke experience,” Cho said. “I look forward to being a guide and helping the freshmen and all the other underclassmen to get a better understanding of how they should function as a part of the team and as a part of the Duke community.”What do you think?

The Blue Devils are including yoga as part of their training and had a 40-minute session before departing for Richmond.What do you think?

“It is no surprise that there are lots of sore muscles and bruised egos right after a competition day,” Fisher said. “Yoga is itself so relaxing that it helps take your mind off of ‘Who did I just lose to?’ or ‘How am I going do better this next time?’ It’s really like a space to forget.”What do you think?

Seven Duke fencers competed in the NCAA Championships last spring, the most in the program’s history. The women’s squad ended the season ranked 10th in the nation and the men’s team was slated ninth. What do you think?

“[This 2015 October North American Cup] is a good time for us to go out and fence people that we wouldn’t normally have the chance to fence during the season,” Cho said. “It gives us a way to evaluate the preparation for the season and it provides us with the opportunity to see how far we have progressed since the beginning of the school year.”

Published on Duke’s Chronicle

McCoy’s goal gives Duke women’s soccer its first ACC victory…


After a lopsided 4-2 loss against then-No. 9 Virginia Tech Sunday, Duke head coach Robbie Church said that his team needed a morale-boosting win to break through and turn around its winless start to ACC play.What do you think?

Thanks to a second-half goal from freshman forward Kayla McCoy, Duke got its confidence back with a 1-0 win against Miami at Cobb Stadium Thursday night. The narrow victory against the Hurricanes snapped a four-game winless stretch for the Blue Devils and reinvigorates their hopes of returning to the NCAA championship this season after being left out of the postseason field a year ago.What do you think?

“I’m so proud of how the players approached the game. They put a lot of energy into it and they did a great job at preparation,” Church said. “We were very aggressive out there offensively and defensively. We needed that win to boost our confidence.”What do you think?

The Blue Devils (7-4-3, 1-2-2 in the ACC) found the back of the net in the 54th minute. Sophomore Imani Dorsey put an inviting cross inside the small box and McCoy notched her second game-winning goal of the season after challenging a Hurricane defender for the ball. What do you think?

The Hurricanes (4-8-0, 1-4-0) outshot the Blue Devils 6-5 in the opening period, but Duke had better scoring opportunities. Redshirt sophomore midfielder Cassie Pecht and junior forward Toni Payne—who led the attack with five shots—registered the first two opportunities to break the deadlock, but Miami’s defense turned their attempts away. The Hurricanes responded in the 15th minute as Ava Ambrose powered a shot that flew above the crossbar.What do you think?

Eight minutes later, Payne fired from inside the box, but goalkeeper Catalina Perez—who was selected as the ACC Defensive Player of the Week Tuesday—delivered the first of her career-high seven saves to preserve the scoreless draw. What do you think?

On the other end of the pitch, Duke goalkeeper E.J. Proctor posted two important saves in the first half. Sophomore Ashton Miller and freshman Taylor Racioppi had looks to grab the lead for the Blue Devils, but Duke and Miami headed to the locker room with nothing to show for their efforts.What do you think?

“We really came out really early in attack,” Church said. “We didn’t get anything out of it but we really attacked well. And we defended better than we have in the last three or four games. We were doubling down and giving ourselves defensive numbers well.”What do you think?

The Blue Devils—who entered Thursday’s game averaging 20.2 shots and 1.8 goals per contest—outshot the Hurricanes 11-3 in the closing period and found the goal they had been seeking after a few attempts to beat Perez.What do you think?

Before McCoy netted the only goal of the game and her sixth of the season, Miller sent a shot careening off the woodwork three minutes into the second half and Dorsey had another chance that Perez snuffed out.What do you think?

With the 1-0 lead, Duke tried to manufacture more clear sights on goal but Perez dealt with two shots from Payne. Dorsey and Racioppi also put a shot on frame each but the Hurricane goalkeeper pulled off a save in each case. What do you think?

Proctor prevented Miami from tying the contest in the last five minutes, as the Wilson, N.C., native blocked attempts from Amy Schmidt and Gianna Dal Pozzo. Duke registered its eighth shutout of the season against the Hurricanes, the most by a Blue Devil team since 2011—when Church’s squad collected 16 shutouts and played in the NCAA Championship final.What do you think?

“The key thing [for the next games] is that we cannot be satisfied,” Church said. “We have to continue to be hungry. We need to get another three points, another win to move down the line here. We’ve got to be consistent. We’ve got to do this every game when we come out. Something that is important for us is not to play one really good game and then play an average game.”What do you think?

The Blue Devils will battle Louisville at Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Soccer Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m. before visiting their Tobacco Road foe—top-ranked North Carolina—Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.

Published on Duke’s Chronicle

Aziz Sancar, 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry…


Published on Duke’s Chronicle.

Yesterday, I went to Chapel Hill to take the most important photo I’ve taken so far—the photo of a Nobel Prize.

As I was working at Duke Press yesterday morning, I received a phone call from Amrith Ramkumar, Duke Chronicle’s editor. “UNC is doing a press conference at 1 p.m. to congratulate their Nobel Prize. Can you go and take photos?” I had already read that Aziz Sancar (UNC,) Paul Modrich (Duke University) and Thomas Lindahl received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry just after I woke up. Unfortunately, Modrich was out of town when the news were made public. But UNC was holding a press conference with Sancar and that was a great opportunity to see and listen to a Nobel Prize live and direct.

After making some arrangements to rearrange my schedule for the rest of the day, I accompanied two Chronicle writers to Chapel Hill and took hundreds of photos of Aziz Sancar, a nice but also shy person who seemed to be overwhelmed by the ceremony and the crowd.

And I managed to get a photo with him as well!


Yesterday I went to Chapel Hill and I photographed a Nobel Prize. Life is good!…

Virginia Tech overwhelms Duke women’s soccer 4-2

The Blue Devils conceded four goals in a single match for the first time this season. And although they made it a two-goal game with five minutes left, their effort to orchestrate a comeback fell short.

Despite outshooting Virginia Tech 17-12, No. 22 Duke fell 4-2 against the No. 9 Hokies at Koskinen Stadium Sunday afternoon. After four conference games, the Blue Devils remain winless in ACC play and their defeat against the Hokies marks their slowest start in conference play since 2010.

“I’m definitely disappointed,” Duke head coach Robbie Church said. “I felt that we could play better. I was excited about the game and looking forward to it. Our team had a good week of training but we lost something and it’s something we’ve got to be able to find.”

Duke (6-4-3, 0-2-2 in the ACC) fell behind early as Virginia Tech (11-1-1, 3-1) took the lead in the 15th minute, when Anissa Dadkhah finished a low cross from Madi Conyers. In the second period, the Hokies—who entered Sunday’s match averaging 2.3 scores per contest—added three goals, an advantage that the Blue Devils trimmed in a two-minute span thanks to a goal from sophomore forward Casey Martinez and an own goal by a Hokie defender.

Duke started the matchup with a 4-4-2 formation instead of its traditional 4-3-3. With junior captain Christina Gibbons playing in midfield, freshman Chelsea Burns made her first career start, occupying the left flank of the defense. Junior forward Toni Payne accompanied freshman Taylor Racioppi in the attacking third of the pitch.

In the 15th minute, Burns could not send a ball away on the left side of the field. Conyers grabbed the bouncing ball and then put a cross into the penalty spot, where Dadkhah broke the scoreless draw with a first-touch shot. The Hokies did not look back for the rest of the matchup.

“We tried to play with a possession-oriented style and when that gets disrupted, it’s a lot of adjusting,” Gibbons said. “We didn’t make the proper adjustments quick enough today before they scored that first goal. Once they did it, they got a lot of the momentum and it was tough to regain the kind of style we wanted to play after that point.”

Sophomore goalkeeper E.J. Proctor dealt with two more shots from Virginia Tech’s attackers in a five-minute span to keep Duke alive and with options to find an equalizer.

Sophomore Ashton Miller led Duke’s attack with four shots in the first half and had two opportunities to tie the score. But her header in the 26th minute was deflected away on the goal line by a Hokie defender, and the Okemos, Mich., native sent another shot wide from inside the box 10 minutes later.

The Hokies used their physical style and toughness—they committed 10 fouls in the opening period and 17 overall—to prevent the Blue Devils from finding clear looks on goal. Duke started showing some signs of anxiety and Racioppi received a yellow card in the 40th minute after tackling a Virginia Tech midfielder from behind.

“[Virginia Tech] brought a different style of play that we haven’t faced yet and I don’t think we dealt with it quick enough,” Miller said. “But it’s a great learning opportunity going into a lot of the games we have coming up because in the second half we showed we could play with [a physical team].”

Two minutes into the second half, sophomore defender Morgan Reid sent a long cross into the box from midfield. Gibbons tried to chip the ball over Hokie goalkeeper Kaylyn Smith, but it flew above the crossbar. That was the closest Duke got to tying the contest.

In the 49th minute, Laila Gray made the best out of a Duke turnover and rolled the ball home from 14 yards out. Nineteen minutes later, Murielle Tiernan scored the third goal of the contest and her 10th of the season. Jordan Coburn took a corner kick that Proctor could not punch away and Tiernan found the back of the net with a header from five yards out. Caroline Kerns added a goal for Virginia Tech with 12 minutes to play, controlling an inviting cross from the right side of the pitch with a right-footed shot toward the far post.

“I’m not sure if we [the coaches] had the right tactics in midfield. [Virginia Tech] had more numbers in midfield and dominated that part,” Church said. “We just have to go back and work to get better and get that spark and hunger that we had early [in the season]. I know this group will [do it].”

The four-goal deficit proved to be insurmountable, but Martinez registered her second goal of the season in the 82nd minute to get Duke on the scoreboard, as she tapped the ball into an open net after a miscommunication between Smith and the Hokie defense. Two minutes later, Proctor took a free kick from Duke’s side of the pitch. A Virginia Tech defender tried to turn the cross away with a header but the ball went toward her own goal and Smith could not pull off a save.

Midfielder Danielle Duhl tried to make it a one-goal game from outside the box with 30 seconds left but her shot was too weak and Smith had no trouble grabbing the ball.

“We have no other choice [than to move forward,]” Church said. “We’ve got to get on a plane on Wednesday to go to Miami. We have to figure out why we are not playing at the level we played in the past. We’ve just got to get better. We just need a confidence-builder. We just need to get one win that will let us roll from there.”

The Blue Devils will play three consecutive games on the road, battling Miami Thursday at 7 p.m., Louisville Sunday at 1 p.m. and their Tobacco Road foe—top-ranked North Carolina—Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.

Published on Duke’s Chronicle

Duke women’s soccer looks to break scoreless drought against No. 9 Virginia Tech

After 310 minutes of conference action, the Blue Devils have scored only one goal and remain winless. But head coach Robbie Church and his players hope to finally break through this weekend.

No. 22 Duke will look to register its first ACC win Sunday against No. 9 Virginia Tech at Koskinen Stadium at 2 p.m. The Blue Devils have had a full week to prepare for the Hokies and will be back on the friendly confines of its home field for the first time since a rough road trip last weekend—a 1-1 draw against Boston College and a 1-0 defeat at the hands of top-ranked Virginia.

“Overall, we created some really good chances [against Boston College and Virginia,]” Church said. “Of course, we’re still working on finishing, we’re working on things in the final third. We have the talent in there. We just have to continue to find the right chemistry. And we’ve got to be able to share the ball, help each other, feed and score goals. All of that will come.”

Duke (6-3-3, 0-1-2 in the ACC) ended its nonconference slate on a promising note, blitzing Appalachian State 6-0 Sept. 17 and netting 21 goals in nine contests. Since then, the Blue Devils have found the back of the net only once, playing a scoreless draw against defending national champion Florida State in their ACC opener in Durham Sept. 20 before the tie against the Eagles and the loss against the Cavaliers.

Despite her eight-game scoring draught, freshman Taylor Racioppi continues to lead Duke’s offense with four goals, three assists and 46 shots. The Blue Devils’ top scorer is Kayla McCoy with five goals, the last of which came against the Mountaineers. The Lincolnwood, Ill., native will look to deliver her first career ACC strike against the Hokies.

“The coaches are adjusting a few things attacking-wise to give us some better opportunities to get the goals,” McCoy said. “But we’ve had a lot of chances in the past couple of games. We just haven’t been able to finish. It’s a mindset. We just have to keep going at it and keep working and trust that [the goals] will come.”

Besides the two newcomers, Church’s squad has other experienced players hoping to reverse the team’s fortunes in front of the goal line. Junior captain Christina Gibbons, redshirt sophomore midfielder Cassie Pecht—the National Rookie of the Year in 2012—sophomore midfielder Ashton Miller and junior defender Rebecca Quinn have combined for eight goals and six assists this season.

On the other end of the field, Duke has registered seven shutouts and only conceded seven goals. Sophomore goalkeeper E.J. Proctor has racked up 37 saves, with a career-high 10 coming from the scoreless draw against Penn State Aug. 28. Sophomore defender Schuyler DeBree tore her ACL when the Blue Devils visited Boston College Sept. 24 and will miss the rest of the season.

“It’s very nice to be back home, training in our home field, being able to use our own locker rooms and being close to our beds.” McCoy said. “We’re ready for this weekend.”

Virginia Tech (10-1-1, 2-1) enters Sunday’s game averaging 2.3 goals per contest. Despite starting their ACC action with a 2-1 loss against then-No. 3 North Carolina, the Hokies earned two consecutive wins last week, beating N.C. State 3-0 and Syracuse 3-1.

Duke’s defense will have to pay special attention to Murielle Tiernan, the Hokies’ leading scorer with nine goals. The forward has another weapon alongside her in Ashley Meier—who has six goals and four assists—and teammates Laila Gray, Alani Johnson and Candace Cephers have netted at least three strikes apiece as well.

Defensively, the Hokies have allowed 11 goals and goalkeeper Kaylyn Smith has posted 32 saves and three shutouts.

“[Virginia Tech] has one of the best forwards in the country,” Church said. “[Tiernan] plays with the back to goal, she can beat you up to dribble and she scores goals. That’s something we have to deal with. Defensively, they’re very solid and don’t give up many goals. They’re a top-10 team so they don’t have a lot of weaknesses. But we’re looking forward to playing them.”