DURHAM, N.C. - A stifling defensive effort and a balanced attack guided the sixth-ranked Duke women's lacrosse team to a 13-5 victory over No. 13 Dartmouth Sunday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium. With the win, the Blue Devils improved to 8-1 overall and 6-0 at home this spring, while Dartmouth dropped to 4-2 on the year.
Duke capitalized from the eight-meter mark, scoring on eight of 10 free position attempts on the day, and totaled eight caused turnovers, led by a career-high three from senior defender Mie Graham. The squad's defensive unit also held the Big Green to a season-low five goals in the non-conference contest.
"We had a really good defensive day," Graham said. "We had a quick turnaround after getting back from Jacksonville, but we were really working on hedging out and putting pressure on the other team to force them to make mistakes. It was a big part of our game plan today and I think we did it well."
Senior Makenzie Hommel paced the Blue Devil offense with four goals and sophomore Brigid Smith collected her third hat trick of the season, while sophomore Kerrin Maurer, junior Molly Quirke and sophomore Taylor Trimble tallied two scores apiece. Smith also added an assist to give her four points, matching a career-best performance.
The Blue Devils got out to an early 3-0 lead on free position goals by Hommel, Smith and Trimble. Dartmouth's Kelsey Johnson provided an answer with 19:52 to play in the first period, but the Duke defense would hold the Big Green scoreless for the remainder of the half. Hommel added two more scores before the break to send the Blue Devils into the locker room with a 6-1 advantage.
The second half saw Duke extend its scoring run to 6-0 as Smith, Trimble and Maurer each converted on free position opportunities. Dartmouth then cut into the 9-1 lead, recording four goals over the next 10 minutes of play to bring the score to 10-5 with 10:33 to play. However, the Blue Devils went on to win two of the four remaining draw controls and received goals from Smith, Hommel and Maurer to seal the 13-5 win.
For the game, Duke outshot the Big Green by a 32-12 margin, with Dartmouth's shot total falling 12 short of its season average heading into the contest. The Blue Devil defense also limited its opponent to single-digit scoring for the second-straight game and the fifth time this season.
Graham led the defense with a game-high three caused turnovers and junior defender Taylor Virden and freshman goalkeeper Kelsey Duryea registered two each. Virden also won three draw controls and Trimble four to help Duke win the category, 13-7. Duryea also posted seven saves and picked up three ground balls, while Virden and Graham added two ground balls each.
"This was a great win as a team," Graham said. "We're looking forward to UVA next week, which is a huge game for us. [Dartmouth] is a good win to have in the books but we've got to move forward now."
The Blue Devils resume Atlantic Coast Conference action Saturday, March 23 when they face Virginia at 1 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va.