DURHAM, N.C. – The 10th-ranked Duke women’s lacrosse program kicked off the 2017 campaign Sunday with a 9-7 victory over Drexel at Koskinen Stadium.
Trailing 6-5 at halftime, the Blue Devils finished with a stingy defensive effort and scored six of the game’s final seven goals to start the season at 1-0.
Saturday’s season opener also marked the teams’ first with a 90-second possession clock, which was implemented in collegiate women’s lacrosse for 2017.
“We were trying to push tempo with the shot clock and not having a lot of success in the first half. I think it forced us to settle down. You can’t let it rush you – you have to get yourself organized in your offense, which is what we did a better job of in the second half. We got some looks that we wanted or got put on the eight-meter and created some shot opportunities that way.”
Sophomore Olivia Jenner corralled the first draw control of the contest and helped Duke dominate the category the rest of the way. The Annapolis, Md., native also notched the squad’s first goal of the season on a feed from junior midfielder Maddie Crutchfield five minutes in. Senior Hayley Shaffer and sophomore Ellie Majure chimed in with tallies in the first 15 minutes to lift the Blue Devils to a 3-2 advantage.
The first half saw a number of turnovers by both teams, but the Dragons would capitalize with four unanswered goals by four different players. The run swung the contest to 6-3 in the visiting team’s favor before Duke closed out the half with consecutive scores by Crutchfield and junior Kyra Harney that cut it to 6-5 at the intermission.
“These early season games when you don’t know what other teams are trying to do because you have no film on them, you have to figure it out as you go,” Kimel said. “Halftime gave us a chance to collect ourselves and say, ‘Okay, this is what they’re looking for, these are their key people.’ Our defenders really locked down and I thought we really made it tough for them to get the looks that they were looking for. That was the biggest difference in the last 38 minutes.”
Jenner added her second tally just 21 seconds into the second half and Harney followed suit after the Blue Devils forced a Drexel turnover in the midfield. Turnovers again plagued both teams for a stretch until Majure converted at the eight-meter to extend Duke’s scoring run to five. The Dragons’ Maggie Stetson responded just over a minute later, but the Blue Devils would keep their opponent off the board the rest of the way behind three second-half saves by sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Lockwood.
Graduate student Jessie Ambrose netted her first goal in a Duke uniform at the 9:50 mark to seal the victory for the Blue Devils.
Jenner totaled three points to lead all Duke players while Harney and Majure also recorded two goals each. Crutchfield posted two points on one goal and one assist and filled the stat sheet with three ground balls, three draw controls and two caused turnovers. Freshman midfielder Callie Humphrey added two ground balls and three caused turnovers in her first collegiate start.
Lockwood accounted for seven saves in the net and Drexel goalkeeper Carlee Ries earned eight.
The Dragon’s attack was led by Nadia Pelham-Lacey, who tallied two first-half goals.
For the contest, the Blue Devils outshot Drexel 22-19 and outdrew the Dragons by a 13-4 margin. Drexel won the ground ball battle, 24-21, and the two teams combined for 44 turnovers on the day.
Duke hosts two contests next weekend at Koskinen Stadium, welcoming Furman Friday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. and Navy Sunday, Feb. 12 at 11 a.m. Both games will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.