Duke women's lacrosse faces its first test away from Durham against No. 12 Stanford Saturday
The last time academic powerhouses Duke and Stanford faced off on the lacrosse field, the Blue Devils eliminated the Cardinal in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Nearly three years later, Stanford is still looking to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament—but well before the Cardinal gets a glimpse of the postseason, they will once again have to face Duke at a neutral site.
No. 12 Stanford will meet the No. 10 Blue Devils Saturday at 5 p.m. in Frisco, Texas in the Patriot Cup at the Ford Center. Although Duke has already notched three straight wins to start off the year, Saturday's contest marks the Blue Devils’ first opportunity to earn a victory away from home in their first test against a ranked opponent.
“We need to continue to be dynamic, especially with the shot clock. Teams are going to throw different things at us,” Duke senior Hayley Shaffer said. “Relying on the talent and the connections we have is going to be important going forward.”
Duke (3-0) enters the Patriot Cup coming off of back-to-back blowout victories last weekend. The Blue Devils first routed Furman 20-5 Friday, showcasing their balance on offense as 12 different players found the back of the cage. Junior Kyra Harney—who leads Duke with eight goals and four assists after pacing the team in points last year—led the charge with five points versus the Paladins, and freshman Catherine Cordrey added four goals of her own to notch her first career hat trick as a Blue Devil.
Duke kept its foot on the gas pedal in its contest against Navy Sunday. Shaffer led the way with four goals and three other Blue Devils tallied hat tricks as Duke cruised to a 20-12 rout of the Midshipmen.
“I was really happy with how many goals we scored,” Blue Devil head coach Kerstin Kimel said. “We had a nice balance of scoring out of transition and scoring out of our settled offensive sets.”
Duke will look to sustain that offensive firepower in its matchup with the Cardinal (1-1), who have given up double digit goals in each of its first two contests.
Stanford opened its season Feb. 10 with a victory against U.C. Davis. Despite surrendering 10 goals, the Cardinal offense exploded for 20 tallies as senior Elizabeth Cusick recorded four goals and two assists. Junior midfielders Maggie Nick and Kelly Myers also kept the Aggies off balance by adding three goals each, and senior Kelsey Murray contributed five points of her own.
But Stanford did not fare as well when it hosted Denver Sunday afternoon. A stifling Pioneer defense and a standout performance from goalkeeper Maddy Stevenson—who tallied a career-high 16 saves—held Stanford’s normally potent offense to just seven goals on 28 shots as the Cardinal dropped a 10-7 contest.
The Blue Devils will aim to replicate Denver's defensive success in Saturday’s contest, with seniors Maura Schwitter and Isabelle Montagne—both preseason All-Americans—to anchor Duke’s back line and shut down Myers and Cusick, who have already combined for nine goals this season. Duke sophomore Jamie Lockwood, who has the tough task of replacing four-year starter Kelsey Duryea in the cage, will also look to best her nine saves against Navy to slow down the Cardinal attack.
In it first two games, the Blue Devil offense—which committed 19 turnovers and 42 fouls against the Midshipmen—frequently rushed the ball in transition, allowing opposing defenses to create takeaways in the midfield. With defenses now playing zone to take advantage of the introduction of a 90-second shot clock this season, the Blue Devils have also struggled at times to create open shots.
“I’m disappointed with the double-digit turnovers,” Kimel said. “It’s the silly dropped passes, bad passes and bad decision making that we have to continue to work on and get better at.”