DURHAM, N.C. – Backed by a strong defensive effort, the 20th-ranked Blue Devils kept pace with No. 10 Syracuse but ultimately fell by a 10-9 score Sunday in ACC action at Koskinen Stadium.
Duke (6-6, 0-5 ACC) received 10 saves from freshman goalkeeper Gabbe Cadoux, who reached double digits in the category for the second time in as many starts. Junior midfielder Maddie Crutchfield and senior midfielder Stuart Humphrey headlined the attack with two tallies apiece, with Crutchfield also supplying an assist for a team-high three points on the afternoon.
“All ACC games are really physical,” said head coach Kerstin Kimel. “One of our big keys to the game was staying composed, knowing that Syracuse is physical. I thought we let that rattle us a little bit in the first half, and out of halftime, we did a really good job particularly in our clear and then on defense. I thought that our kids were really patient. Our defense was awesome today. We prepared really well for them, we anticipated their looks well and I thought that patience really paid off in terms of limiting their looks in the second half.”
Down by two at halftime, the Blue Devils quickly slashed the deficit to one on a Humphrey score 44 seconds into the second period. After the Orange (9-4, 3-1 ACC) capitalized on a man-up opportunity, Duke knotted the game on consecutive goals by senior Hayley Shaffer and freshman Catherine Cordrey. Shaffer picked up a ground ball off a rebound and fired it past Syracuse goalkeeper Asa Goldstock and Cordrey finished at the eight-meter mark to make it 7-7 with 24:25 remaining.
The Orange attacked the goal cage a couple of possessions later, with Alie Jimerson breaking through to put the visiting squad back in front. Teammate Riley Donahue followed on a Jimerson assist as Syracuse pushed the margin back to two.
After play went back and forth, Crutchfield made good on a turnover by the Orange, converting on a free position attempt for her second tally of the day. Despite several stops by Cadoux, Syracuse would counter four minutes later, bringing the score to 10-8.
A series of turnovers brought the ball back to the Blue Devils, and Humphrey delivered from the eight-meter to bring Duke within one at the 1:29 mark. Cordrey corralled the final draw control of the contest but the Blue Devil attack was unable to generate a look at the cage, giving the Orange the one-goal victory.
After a string of turnovers by both sides to start the contest, Syracuse struck first on a Natalie Wallon tally 10 minutes in. Graduate student Jessie Ambrose responded in impressive fashion for the Blue Devils, notching a behind-the-back goal on a dish from Crutchfield.
The squads traded markers again before the Orange rattled off three straight for a 5-2 advantage with 7:13 to play in the half. Junior attacker Kyra Harney notched the 101st marker of her career after reaching the 100-goal milestone earlier this week against Elon before Syracuse saw Devon Parker score from the eight-meter mark.
Crutchfield netted a free position goal with six seconds remaining in the period to trim the margin to two, 6-4, at the intermission.
The Orange were led offensively by Jimerson, who finished with two goals and two assists. Donahue and Neena Merola also added two tallies apiece, while Goldstock totaled seven saves in the net.
“They can score really quickly,” Kimel said of Syracuse. “They have some really fantastic attackers. A huge positive today is that we really fought and battled hard defensively. Devon Russell did an outstanding job on number 12 [Nicole Levy], who is arguably one of the best attackers in the country.”
On the day, Syracuse turned in a 34-22 advantage in shots and picked up 19 ground balls to 14 by Duke. The Blue Devils won the draw by a 12-9 margin behind five from sophomore Olivia Jenner.
Duke went 4-of-8 from on free position attempts after converting on just one of five opportunities in the first half. Defensively, the squad limited the Orange to 3-of-8 at the eight-meter.
The Blue Devils continue their conference regular season slate next weekend, traveling to Boston College Saturday. The 1 p.m. contest will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.