DURHAM, N.C. - No. 1 Northwestern outscored the fifth-ranked Duke women's lacrosse team 8-2 in the second half to earn a 13-5 victory over the Blue Devils Sunday afternoon from Koskinen Stadium.
Despite temperatures in the mid-30's and a steady rain throughout the game, the two teams were a combined 29-31 on clear attempts. However, Northwestern (2-0, 0-0 ALC) received five goals and an assist from senior Shannon Smith and four goals from Erin Fitzgerald, while only committing nine turnovers.
The Blue Devils (3-2, 0-0 ACC) were led by sophomore Molly Quirke's three points on two goals and an assist. Freshman Kerrin Maurer added a goal and an assist to bring her team-leading point total to 19 on the season. Senior Amanda Jones and sophomore Maddy Morrissey registered a goal each, while redshirt senior Emma Hamm and senior Kim Wenger combined for nine draw controls.
"I'm disappointed that we lacked discipline on our offense," said head coach Kerstin Kimel. [Northwestern is] obviously a very good team and they're very good on the draw. We tied them in the draw, and won the draw in the first half, but didn't have the points to show for it. We cleared the ball 100-percent, which on a day like this is really impressive against a team that typically puts a lot of pressure on you. Yet we had 15 turnovers and I would say all of them were in our offense end. That was a similar theme last weekend and something that we have to fix. We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball on offense."
The first eight minutes of play saw the two teams trade shots before Smith broke the scoreless stalemate with 21:51 left in the half. Fitzgerald made it a 2-0 game just under two minutes later on an assist from Brooks Lawler.
Duke scored its first goal with 14:20 to go in the half as Maurer fed a cutting Quirke. Smith, the 2011 Tewaaraton Trophy recipient, proceeded to score the next three goals of the game to give the Wildcats a 5-1 advantage with 2:27 to go in the opening period.
But the Blue Devils closed out the first half with three straight draw controls from Wenger, which resulted in two Duke goals in 17 seconds. Maurer found the back of the cage to make it a three-goal game before Jones cut the Wildcats' lead to two off an assist from Quirke.
Duke led 7-2 in draw controls for the opening period. Costly turnovers gave Northwestern the 11-8 edge in shots and two-goal advantage at the intermission.
Freshman Taylor Trimble won the opening draw of the second half, but a Blue Devil miscue gave possession back to Northwestern and the Wildcats scored three unanswered to take an 8-3 lead with 20 minutes to play.
A free position goal from Morrissey ended the Wildcat run and cut the deficit to four with 16:50 to go. However, Northwestern would outscore Duke 5-1 the rest of the way en route to the eight-goal victory.
The Wildcats turned the tables on the Blue Devils in the second half, leading in draw controls 8-3 for the period. Northwestern held the advantage in shots (25-15) and ground balls (14-12) for the game as well. Senior goaltender Mollie Mackler posted seven saves in the contest, while her Northwestern counterpart, Brianne LoManto, made five stops.
"We just have to be able to execute and be disciplined much better than we were today," added Kimel. "I think we have a lot of the tools in place to do really well this season, even though we have a lot of young players on the field, but our offense has to get back on track and be more disciplined overall."
Following a stretch of three games in seven days, Duke will remain at home to take on No. 2 Maryland Saturday, February 25 at 2 p.m.