EVANSTON, Ill. - Duke junior goaltender Mollie Mackler recorded a career-high 20 saves, including 15 in the first half, but the No. 3 Blue Devils could not hang on to a two-goal halftime lead, falling to No. 2 Northwestern 12-10 Saturday afternoon at Lakeside Field.
The Wildcats, who moved to 10-0, outshot the Blue Devils 21-13 in the first half and 27-37 for the game, but Duke (9-2) was able to build a three-goal margin as late as 26:53 in the second half. However, Northwestern closed out the contest with a 7-2 run to end the Duke threat.
Redshirt junior Emma Hamm led the Devil offense with three goals and an assist and junior Amanda Jones also netted a hat trick, her second of the season. Senior Christie Kaestner dished out a game-high three assists to go along with a first-half goal and sophomore Makenzie Hommel added two free position goals as well.
Northwestern put six shots on cage in the first three minutes, but Mackler came up huge for the Blue Devils to start the game, stopping each Wildcat attempt. Duke broke the 0-0 stalemate after 10 minutes of play on Hamm's first goal of the afternoon. The Blue Devils pushed their lead to two goals 33 seconds later as Virginia Crotty found Kat Thomas in front of the cage.
Mackler's brilliant play continued as the Longmeadow, Mass., native stopped the first nine Northwestern shots on goal, but the Wildcats were able to break through with 17:17 left in the half to thwart Duke's early run. The goal by Brooke Matthews also begun a 3-0 spurt for Northwestern with the Wildcats taking a 3-2 lead with 15:02 left in the opening stanza on a fast break goal from leading scorer Shannon Smith. Smith ended the day with three goals and two assists, including the gamewinner late in the second half.
Despite the shift in momentum, Duke rebounded with back-to-back free position goals from Hommel The Blue Devils capped a 3-0 run with a goal from Jones on a give-and-go play from Kaestner.
A free position tally with 7:58 in the first half brought Northwestern within one, but Hamm powered through a group of Wildcat defenders to give Duke a 6-4 lead. The two squads traded score over the next two minutes before a Northwestern turnover gave Duke possession with under a minute to go in the half. With the clock ticking down, Hamm netted a goal from the right side, but the goal was waved off due to a Northwestern foul and the Blue Devils were unable to find the back of the net in the final seconds, taking a 7-5 lead into the intermission.
Jones earned her second goal of the game three minutes into the second period off an assist from Wenger to give Duke an 8-5 advantage, its largest lead of the game. But Northwestern continued to chip into the Duke lead, starting with a free position goal with 22:23 remaining and a score from Smith two minutes later.
After the Wildcats' goalie Brianne LoManto stopped a Jones shot, the Duke junior picked up the rebound and found the back of the cage to put Duke up 9-7 with 19:15 to play.
Three consecutive Northwestern goals gave the Wildcats a 10-9 lead with 10 minutes to go, but Hamm tied the score again 36 seconds after Northwestern went ahead.
However, the final seven minutes would belong to the Wildcats as Smith put Northwestern up 11-10 and Erin Fitzgerald extended the lead to two 47 seconds later. A Duke foul gave Northwestern possession off the ensuing draw, and the Wildcats were able to run out the final five minutes of the game to secure the win.
Duke hits the road again next weekend, traveling to Boston College Saturday, April 9 for a 1 p.m. tilt. The Blue Devils will also head to Brown Sunday, April 10 with opening draw scheduled for 1 p.m.