EVANSTON, Ill. – The ninth-ranked Duke women’s lacrosse team was held to its lowest scoring output of the season in a 12-4 loss to No. 4 Northwestern Friday on a cold and windy evening at Lakeside Field. The Blue Devils fell to 9-4 on the spring with the loss while the Wildcats improved to 12-1 in a battle of top-10 teams.
Despite temperatures in the mid-30s and wet and windy conditions, the two squads went a combined 20-of-24 on clear attempts. However, Northwestern received five goals from Erin Fitzgerald and had nine different players record a point while goalkeeper Bridget Bianco and the Wildcat defense limited Duke to just four second-half scores on 14 shots.
Northwestern was efficient on the offensive end of the field from the start after Ali Cassera kicked off the scoring three minutes into the game. Teammate Erin Fitzgerald added a pair of scores as the Wildcats darted out to a 4-0 lead with 10 minutes gone in the first half.
The Duke defense then settled in, with juniors Molly Quirke and Taylor Virden forcing caused turnovers and freshman netminder Kelsey Duryea – the nation’s leader in save percentage and saves per game entering the contest – recording a couple of stops. However, the Blue Devil offense struggled to convert despite some good looks at the net and Northwestern continued to dominate time of possession. Two more goals from the Wildcats’ Fitzgerald and a free position score by Gabriella Flibotte with nine seconds remaining made it a 7-0 score at the break.
Senior attacker Makenzie Hommel got Duke on the board five minutes into the second period, notching her team-leading 34th goal of the season on a free position opportunity. Northwestern quickly recaptured momentum though, rattling off four more scores to go up by 10 at 11-1 with just under 17 minutes remaining in regulation.
The Wildcats continued to maintain possession before junior Maddy Morrissey broke through with a win at the draw midway through the half. Sophomore midfielder Erin Tenneson capitalized, firing one past Bianco to make it 12-2 with 12:40 left on the clock. A fast break by Hommel a short while later resulted in a goal by freshman Maddy Acton, who collected her 11th of the season. Sophomore Taylor Trimble added a score on an assist from Hommel with 15 seconds to go, but Northwestern would win by an eight-goal margin.
For the game, the Wildcats outshot Duke, 21-14, and held an 11-6 edge in draw controls. Ground balls were even in the contest with each team picking up 12. Duryea posted six saves in goal for the Blue Devils while Northwestern’s Bianco finished with five.
Duke wraps up a three-game road swing Wednesday, Apr. 17 when the squad travels to Davidson for a 6 p.m. matchup.