STONY BROOK, N.Y. - With a bid to the NCAA Championship game on the line, the fifth-ranked Duke women's lacrosse team came up short, falling 14-8 to No. 1 Maryland Friday evening from Frank P. LaValle Stadium. The Blue Devils end their season with a 15-5 overall record after making the program's sixth appearance in the national semifinals.
Tewaaraton finalist Emma Hamm led the Blue Devils' offense with three goals on the evening, bringing her team leading total to 51 this season. Junior Kim Wenger contributed a team-high four points on two goals and two assists, while senior Christie Kaestner added a goal and two assists.
"First, I'd like to congratulate the University of Maryland" said head coach Kerstin Kimel. "They were outstanding tonight. They made us make mistakes, and then they made us pay for them. I'm really proud of our team. We've faced a lot of adversity this year and I thought our seniors in particular did a good job of putting our team on their backs and willing us to the Final Four. I'm proud of our body of work this season, and am really, really sad it's over because this has been a really special group."
Duke opened the game with a goal from freshman Molly Quirke, but the Blue Devils' advantage was short-lived as the Terps put together an 8-1 run over the next 28:27 to take a commanding 8-2 lead with 25:23 to play. Maryland's defense forced Duke to commit 18 turnovers, including 12 in the first half, which limited the Blue Devils' opportunities.
Junior goaltender Mollie Mackler turned in a solid performance, finishing the day with 10 saves, but the Blue Devils were unable to convert offensive chances to put pressure on the Terps.
"We got taken out of our offensive game," added Kimel. "We are a team that loves to move the ball and that was our game plan. It was a combination of what Maryland did to us, they did a great job defensively forcing us into mistakes, but also our attack let ourselves get out of a rhythm by rushing some things. We were making great stops defensively and then we had the yips with the ball. For us to have 12 turnovers in the first half is very unusual. That was difficult to recover from and Maryland wore us down."
Duke continued to fight in the second half, but found itself down 13-5 with 8:08 to go. The Blue Devils put together a three-goal run, beginning with a tally from Sarah Bullard, who finished with a goal and an assist in the game. Kaestner continued the run, which was capped by a Hamm goal, but the streak was too little, too late for the Blue Devils.
Maryland, who advances to the NCAA Championship game on Sunday, moves to 21-1 for the season. The Terps were led by Tewaaraton finalists Katie Schwarzmann and Sarah Mollison with a combined eight goals and two assists. Senior Laura Merrifield also registered a hat trick in the contest.
The Blue Devils are now 16-14 all-time in NCAA Tournament play and will return 27 letterwinners for the 2012 season. Duke loses five seniors in Sarah Bullard, Virginia Crotty, Miller Hughes, Christie Kaestner and Caroline Spearman, but will have a core group including All-ACC and All-South picks Emma Hamm, Kim Wenger and Kat Thomas.