DURHAM, N.C. – The 20th-ranked Blue Devils jumped out to a 6-2 halftime advantage against No. 11 Northwestern and held off a second-half rally by the Wildcats to earn a thrilling 9-8 victory Sunday at Koskinen Stadium.
With the score knotted, 7-7, inside the final 12 minutes, Duke received an emphatic goal from senior Grace Fallon and what would prove to be the game-winner delivered by freshman Charlotte North. Sophomore goalkeeper Gabbe Cadoux capped a 10-save performance with three consecutive stops on Northwestern’s final offensive possession to preserve the one-goal advantage at the final horn.
The victory marked the Blue Devils’ second of the season over a ranked opponent and moved the squad to 3-0 on the year.
“Our defense and Gabbe were outstanding today,” said head coach Kerstin Kimel. “Our team overall just played great team defense today. To hold a team like Northwestern to eight goals is really a great feat for a group that’s relatively new and really young.”
The first six draw controls of the day went Duke’s way, with junior Olivia Jenner winning five. The strong start in the circle propelled the home team to an early 4-2 advantage. North was able to capitalize a short while later following the first of three Northwestern shot clock violations on the day, and senior midfielder Maddie Crutchfield finished from the eight-meter mark to give the Blue Devils a four-goal lead at the intermission.
“The draw is key,” Kimel said. “Especially with this new rule with only a 3v3 between the 30s, you really not only have to have someone who’s great at directing the draw, but kids on the circle who are really good at winning the ball on the ground. Cat Barry comes to mind today and Maddie Crutchfield. I thought they were both really clutch in addition to Olivia. Olivia was able to get us a lot of possession and momentum in the first half.”
The Wildcats scored three unanswered coming out of halftime to trim the margin to one at 6-5. Senior Kyra Harney broke up the Northwestern run with a man-up tally at the 17:03 mark, but the visitors strung together two more goals to tie the game.
A Cadoux save set up Fallon on the other end, who finished on a quick feed from Crutchfield to put Duke back in front at 8-7. Junior midfielder Ellie Majure contributed a caused turnover a few minutes later that resulted in North’s game winner. Fellow freshman Mary Markwordt had the assist on North’s tally as the Blue Devils made it a two-goal game with 4:32 remaining.
“What was very cool on that last goal was we had two freshmen just make a read and a play, which is awesome,” Kimel said. “Charlotte is really talented and she loves the game. She’s by far our most passionate player. Those situations are the situations Charlotte North wants to be in.”
Northwestern’s Nicole Beardsley responded with an unassisted marker inside the final three minutes, and after the Wildcats claimed the ensuing draw, Cadoux denied in succession shots by Selena Lasota, Beardsley and Lindsey McKone to secure the victory.
Cadoux rounded out the afternoon with her second double-digit save performance of the season while Julie Krupnick totaled 11 stops on the other end for the Wildcats.
Shots were even in the contest at 30 apiece, as were ground balls at 18. The Blue Devils held a 12-7 advantage at the draw behind eight from Jenner and three from freshman Catriona Barry.
North collected her third hat trick in as many collegiate games and Fallon also had three points on two goals and one assist.
Up next, Duke hits the road for the first time in 2018, traveling to Blacksburg, Va., to open ACC play at Virginia Tech Saturday at 3 p.m.