Too little, too late.

Faced with a 10-2 deficit with two minutes left in the first half, the No. 10 Blue Devils outscored No. 25 Virginia Tech 11-7 in the final period, cutting the deficit to three with 2:58 left in the contest. Ultimately, though, they could not break through.

Duke dropped its first contest of the season 17-14 against the Hokies at the Indoor Practice Stadium Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg, Va. After winning the first 19 matchups in the teams' all-time series, Duke allowed Virginia Tech to finish 8-of-10 on free-position opportunities, forcing the Blue Devils to change netminders from sophomore starter Gabbe Cadoux to junior Jamie Lockwood.

“Virginia Tech is a very solid team and I think that their defense is really good, and I think it took our young group a little while to adjust to the pace and the aggressive style that they played,” Duke head coach Kerstin Kimel told Goduke.com. “The second half showed that once we settled in a little bit, we found the holes and we were successful.”

Playing their first ACC game, the young Blue Devil squad dug itself a deep hole early. After senior midfielder Maddie Crutchfield knotted the score at one at the 24-minute mark of the first half, the Hokies rattled off six straight goals, as Duke’s back line struggled to get stops all day.

After Virginia Tech (3-2, 1-0 in the ACC) registered its sixth goal of the half, Kimel opted to switch Cadoux for Lockwood, but the bleeding did not stop there. Lockwood made just three saves on 11 shots on goal before Cadoux reentered the contest, as Kimel’s squad could not contain the Hokies’ offense. The Blue Devils (3-1, 0-1) had no answer all day for the duo of senior attack Tristan McGinley and freshman midfielder Paige Petty, who combined for 10 goals on 15 shots.

“It just wasn’t a great day for us defensively, and I think that had a lot to do with the fact that their kids just drove really hard to the net,” Kimel said. “We didn’t have help coming the way we needed to have help coming, and it was a tough day for our goalies as well.”

Although junior attack Olivia Jenner dominated on the draw—she won 12 of the Blue Devils’ 22 draw controls—Duke also went ice cold on offense in the first period. After Crutchfield’s first tally, the Blue Devils went scoreless for nearly 16 minutes despite taking 11 shots in the half.

But everything changed after halftime, as Duke came storming back. Jenner found the back of the net just five seconds into the second half and the Blue Devils kept the momentum going throughout the period, ripping off 21 total shots in the period.

Freshman attack Charlotte North continued her impressive start to her collegiate career, registering her fourth hat trick, while Grace Fallon and Crutchfield combined for six goals and five assists, the majority of which came in the second half. 

“We were more aggressive and we weren’t as timid just moving the ball,” Kimel said. “We were playing it pretty safe moving the ball on the perimeter, and once we settled down and got ourselves organized...we got the looks.”

The Blue Devils will have almost an entire week to practice before gearing up for a six-game homestand, starting with Stanford Friday afternoon.

Kimel is optimistic that her team will not have a repeat performance then.

“This group will rebound and we’ve got a great weekend coming up with an opportunity to get back on track,” Kimel said.