DURHAM, N.C. - The seventh-ranked Duke women's lacrosse team used a 9-0 run late in the first half to record a 15-8 victory over William & Mary Sunday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium. The Blue Devils improve to 4-0 on the year for the program's best start since the 2010 season while William & Mary falls to 1-1 on the spring.
Senior attacker Makenzie Hommel put the Blue Devils on the board 30 seconds into the game before William & Mary responded with three consecutive goals. However, the next 18 minutes were all Duke as the squad used a 9-0 run to take a 10-3 lead toward the end of the half. Freshman Kelci Smesko scored twice for the Blue Devils during that span, with Hommel and six other Blue Devils also finding the net. The Tribe's Kyrstin Mackrides tacked on a pair of goals in the final two minutes of the half, cutting Duke's lead to 10-5 at the break.
The Blue Devils outshot William & Mary 23-8 in the first 30 minutes and had a 10-6 advantage in draws.
"We're fortunate, we have a lot of kids who can take the draw," said head coach Kerstin Kimel. "The girls on the circle -Taylor Virden being one of them - did a great job. Molly Quirke came up with a great one from behind the line ... I thought we had a lot of people contribute in those areas. That's your possession, and I think the run we had in the second half came from winning the draw and creating momentum off of that."
Following a goal by sophomore Kerrin Maurer to open the second half, William & Mary tallied three straight scores to make it a three-goal game with 15:57 to play. Duke would not give up another goal for the rest of the game, winning a number of key draws down the stretch and adding another four scores to collect the 15-8 victory.
"I felt like the defense needed to play our brand of defense, which I didn't think we were doing very well," Kimel said. "From that stretch in the middle of the game on, we did. We did a great job. We created turnovers, we made good stops, we gave Kaitlin [Gaiss] the opportunity to make a save. More than anything, we were just aggressive on the draw and aggressive out of transition."
Hommel led the Blue Devils in scoring for the third time in four games, finishing with three goals and one assist. Maurer, Smesko, sophomore Brigid Smith and freshman Maddy Acton also posted multiple goals and nine Duke players registered a point in a balanced scoring effort. For the game, the Blue Devils outshot William & Mary by a 43-15 margin.
Redshirt junior Maddie Salamone and Virden each corralled five draw controls to help Duke win the category by a 15-10 advantage. Virden and junior Molly Quirke also picked up four ground balls apiece and the defensive unit forced the Tribe into 17 turnovers. In goal, senior Kaitlin Gaiss made five stops in addition to recording four ground balls. William & Mary's Colleen Nofi made 19 saves in the loss.
"Just from the first game we played against Virginia Tech to this game, I think we've come a long way," Virden said. "It's exciting because we can keep getting better ... We have some things we need to work on this week and in the weeks to come, but I think Maryland will be a good test to see how far we've come."
Up next, the Blue Devils will hit the road for the first time this season when they travel to College Park, Md., to take on Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Maryland Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m.