DURHAM, N.C. - Two Blue Devils collected hat tricks as the seventh-ranked Duke women's lacrosse team opened the 2013 season with a 17-9 victory over Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Virginia Tech Friday evening at Koskinen Stadium.
Sophomore Kerrin Maurer matched a program single-game record with five assists to go along with three goals, while senior Makenzie Hommel added three goals and two assists in the win. Led by redshirt junior Maddie Salamone's career-high nine draw controls, Duke held a 14-13 advantage on the draw and outshot the visiting Hokies, 33-17. The Blue Devils also had 13 of their 17 goals on the evening scored by underclassmen.
"We have a lot of different threats who can score in a lot of different ways," said head coach Kerstin Kimel. "To have the scoring be so balanced - and not just the actual goal scoring but also the assists - was exciting. You always want to have an offense that's versatile and prolific, and I think tonight we showed that's something we are capable of if we continue over the course of the season."
Nine Blue Devils registered a point in the contest, led by Maurer with a game-high eight points. Hommel totaled five and freshman Kelci Smesko notched three in her collegiate debut.
Sophomore Taylor Trimble began the scoring for Duke less than two minutes into the game, finding the net on an assist from Hommel. After Virginia Tech got on the board with a score from Megan Will, the Blue Devils went on a 4-0 spurt which included tallies by Smesko, sophomore Brigid Smith, sophomore Erin Tenneson and rookie Maddy Acton.
Virginia Tech responded on a goal by Julia Heaps midway through the first period, but Duke would go on to close the half on a 4-1 scoring streak to take a 10-3 lead at the intermission.
The Hokies came out of the break on a 3-0 run of their own to pull within four, but the Blue Devil defense kept them off the scoreboard for the next 13 minutes. During that span, Salamone scored and Hommel converted on a free position attempt to push the Duke lead back out to six at 12-6.
Trimble later picked up her second goal on a man-up opportunity and, following a pair of Virginia Tech scores, the Blue Devils closed out the game on a three-goal run, capped by Maurer's third strike with the clock winding down.
"We had everyone from freshmen to seniors finishing, so it was exciting to have many people scoring," Hommel said. "We had great connections in the first half. We were a little bit slow in the second half, but in the last 30 seconds we were able to execute really well."
In her first start since the 2010 season, senior goaltender Kaitlin Gaiss made seven saves, while the Hokies' Alex Gale had 12. The Blue Devils also received strong defensive play from sophomore Gabby Moise, who tied a career-best with four caused turnovers, as well as junior Taylor Virden, who notched three.
"Our defense did a great job of limiting Virginia's Tech look," Kimel said. "Kaitlin Gaiss had some really nice saves, and I thought we came up with the ball in a lot of situations when the ball was on the ground. And that's something that we've really been focused on - if we create second-chance opportunities, we have to be the ones coming up with them. I thought we showed a lot of hustle and a lot of grit tonight in those situations."
Duke continues its homestand Sunday, Feb. 10 when it hosts Presbyterian in a 3 p.m. matchup.