DURHAM, N.C. – The Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) released Monday its Division I preseason poll, with the Blue Devils coming in at No. 6 on the list.
Duke will face eight teams ranked in the IWLCA’s preseason top 20 during the course of the regular season, with three other opponents also receiving votes. The Blue Devils are also one of seven ACC programs ranked in the initial poll.
Head coach Kerstin Kimel’s squad will be in pursuit of the program’s 17th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014 after advancing to the national quarterfinals for the ninth consecutive time last spring.
Duke returns 22 letterwinners and nine starters from last year’s 14-6 team, which concluded the 2013 campaign ranked eighth in the nation. 2013 IWLCA All-Americans Kelsey Duryea and Taylor Virden headline a veteran defensive unit that also includes junior Gabby Moise, senior Tara Stokes and senior midfielder Molly Quirke. Duryea finished an impressive rookie campaign ranked fourth nationally in save percentage and led the ACC in saves per game, save percentage and ground balls per game. Moise paced the 2013 team in caused turnovers while Virden led the way in draw controls, totaling 54 as a junior to move into sixth place on the program’s all-time career chart with 122 in three seasons.
The Blue Devils also return experience at attack, where 2013 All-ACC and All-South Region honorees Kerrin Maurer and Taylor Trimble will look to guide the offense. Duke’s points and assists leader last spring, Maurer will also be joined up top by sophomore Kelci Smesko, who started every contest as a freshman in 2013, junior Brigid Smith and sophomore Maddy Acton. Trimble, who recorded 42 points last year and was recently added to the U.S. national team roster, will anchor a bevy of returning talent at midfield along with Quirke, senior Maddy Morrissey and juniors Erin Tenneson and Chelsea Landon.
In addition, the program also welcomed 10 freshmen and one transfer student this fall, with the group receiving the No. 6 ranking on Inside Lacrosse’s list of the top 10 recruiting classes of 2013.
Duke officially opens the 2014 campaign at home Friday, Feb. 7, hosting in-state opponent program Elon at 3 p.m. in Koskinen Stadium.
IWLCA Division I Pre-Season Poll – Feb. 3, 2014
|Rank||Team||Votes (First place)|
|1||North Carolina ^||398 (360)|
|2||Maryland ^||371 (20)|
|3||Syracuse ^||368 (20)|
|11||Notre Dame ^||215|
|20||Boston College ^||41|
Also receiving votes: Dartmouth, Connecticut, Ohio State, Johns Hopkins, Louisville^, Albany, Canisius, Virginia Tech^, Delaware, Jacksonville^
^ denotes 2014 opponent