ELON, N.C. – Duke midfielder Maddie Crutchfield buried the game-winning goal with 12.6 seconds remaining to send the 20th-ranked Blue Devils past No. 18 Elon Wednesday in a thrilling non-conference contest at Rudd Field. Duke weathered a second-half rally by the Phoenix to improve to 6-5 on the season.
Crutchfield rounded out the contest with two goals and an assist while junior attacker Grace Fallon had a team-high four points on two goals and two assists. Junior Kyra Harney added one goal and two assists to reach the 100-goal mark for her career.
Freshman Gabbe Cadoux made the first start of her collegiate career in goal, turning in a season-high 10 saves.
“We focused on a few simple things coming into this game and I thought our kids did a good job of executing,” said head coach Kerstin Kimel. “We were pushing the ball out of transition, which was part of our game plan, and we did a good job of that,” Kimel said. “We were also moving at speed – the ball was moving at speed and our off-ball people were moving at speed against their zone. Their zone is really good … Our kids totally honored and respected that and we practiced really hard to prepare. We knew we were going to have to play really well and play at a higher pace to beat their zone.”
Crutchfield kept a Duke scoring run rolling into the second half, winning the opening draw of the period and finishing on a Harney assist to make it 8-4. Nicole Sinacori ended a 10-minute drought for Elon and despite a couple Cadoux saves, the Phoenix trimmed the margin to two on a Sloane Kessler goal.
Strong defensive play resulted in a number of turnovers and neither side broke through offensively for over 13 minutes until Elon’s Anna Vitton made it a one-goal game. Senior Hayley Shaffer responded for the Blue Devils, converting on a man-up opportunity to put the margin back at two.
Two straight goals by Stephanie Asher of the Phoenix knotted the contest at 9-9. Duke then turned in an impressive defensive stand, forcing Elon into a shot clock violation that set up the game winner by Crutchfield. There were multiple turnovers on the Blue Devil clear attempt but Crutchfield recovered the ground ball and fired top shelf for the game’s final tally. Senior defender Maura Schwitter claimed the final draw control to close out the win as Duke and the Phoenix played to a one-goal contest for the second straight year.
“At the end of the day, it was the things we did throughout the game that made it, just like going hard,” Crutchfield said. “There were a lot of turnovers at the end but the game plan was just to go hard.”
Duke capitalized on an Anne Slusser caused turnover three minutes in, with sophomore Ellie Majure finishing on a quick feed from Harney. Cadoux was solid in the opening minutes but Elon strung together back-to-back tallies for a 2-1 advantage midway through the first period.
The teams traded turnovers and markers, with Fallon netting her second at the 6:34 mark on a Majure assist. Freshman Catherine Cordrey followed suit with two goals in 55 seconds to put the Blue Devils back in front at 5-4. Shaffer and Harney extended the scoring run, with Harney notching the 100th goal of her career in emphatic fashion to send Duke into the intermission leading, 7-4.
Elon’s Asher led all players in the contest with three goals and Phoenix goalkeeper Rachel Ramirez totaled six stops and six caused turnovers.
The Blue Devils won the draw control, 13-8, behind four draws from Schwitter and three each by Crutchfield and sophomore Olivia Jenner. Elon held the edge in ground balls, 24-15, and led in shots by a 30-20 margin.
Up next, the Blue Devils return to Koskinen Stadium for the first time in nearly a month Sunday, hosting No. 10 Syracuse at 1 p.m. on ACC Network Extra.
--- NOTES ---
- With her goal at the 0:49 mark in the first half, junior attacker Kyra Harney became the 17th player in program history to reach the 100-goal mark for her career.
- Junior midfielder Maddie Crutchfield recorded the third game-winning tally of her career and second of the season.