EVANSTON, Ill. – Duke and Northwestern played to a thrilling finish for the second straight season, with the seventh-ranked Wildcats just edging the 24th-ranked Blue Devils, 21-20, Sunday at Ryan Fieldhouse and Wilson Field.
The high-scoring affair was tied four times inside the final 17 minutes, including at 20-20 with 1:18 left on the clock. Northwestern’s Lindsey McKone delivered the game winner with 25 seconds remaining to send the Wildcats to 3-0 on the season. Duke surrendered its first loss to fall to 2-1.
“Northwestern is an excellent team,” said head coach Kerstin Kimel. “They’re really physical, really fast and they’re obviously very high-scoring. For us, what we’re proud of is that we put up 20 goals against a great team. I thought we fought really hard. I thought we competed really well. We just got stuck in the last three minutes – we made some not so great decisions that put us in a position where we they had the ball more than we did.”
The Blue Devils topped the 19-goal mark for the third consecutive game to start the season, featuring eight different goal scorers on the day. Senior Olivia Jenner and sophomore Charlotte North led the way with five markers each, while Jenner also recorded a career-high four assists. The sister duo of Olivia and Maddie Jenner teamed up to help Duke win the draw by a 26-17 margin, with Maddie claiming a season-best 13 draw controls.
After the Blue Devils opened up an 11-6 advantage toward the end of the first half, the Wildcats picked up their scoring run early in the second period to retake the lead at 13-12. Duke countered with a quick draw control and score by Olivia Jenner, and after two stops by starting goalkeeper Gabbe Cadoux, added a tally by freshman midfielder Veronica Hineman. The lead would continue to change hands, with the Blue Devils going back in front at the 11:55 mark on junior Catherine Cordrey’s fourth goal of the afternoon.
The teams swapped scores over the next five minutes, with Olivia Jenner and North putting together a three-goal burst that gave Duke a 20-18 cushion. Sophomore goalkeeper Chase Henriquez entered the contest at the 10-minute mark, denying the Wildcats twice on a key offensive possession for the home squad.
Northwestern closed the margin in the final three minutes, registering two goals from the eight-meter mark before McKone put the Wildcats in front for good.
Olivia Jenner netted two of the Blue Devils’ first three tallies in a back-and-forth opening to the contest. Cordrey capitalized on momentum from the defensive end to chip in a pair and Maddie Jenner got into a groove in the draw circle before giving Duke the lead on an assist from Cordrey midway through the half.
The Blue Devils extended the scoring run to seven unanswered behind back-to-back defensive stands, swinging it to 11-6 in their favor with just over three minutes remaining. Northwestern responded with three straight tallies to cut it to 12-10 at the intermission.
“The game was really fast right away and we got down,” Kimel said. “Our kids showed a lot of fortitude in that we had a next play mentality. We didn’t let it get us down. I felt like we fought really hard and mentally stayed in the game ... We competed really well. A lot of kids helped us today in different ways. We have to tighten up defensively – I’ll be interested to watch the film to see what that looked like. That’s an area that obviously we’ll have to focus on as we head into next weekend.”
The squads combined for 75 shots, with Duke accounting for 40. The Wildcats came up with 19 ground balls to the Blue Devils’ 13 and committed just eight turnovers while Duke had 15.
Cordrey joined Olivia Jenner and North in posting a hat trick and Hineman finished with multiple tallies. Cadoux registered seven saves and Henriquez three in the loss.
Duke will be back in action Saturday, kicking off ACC play with a 12 p.m. tilt against Virginia Tech at Koskinen Stadium. The contest will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.