Usually a cornerstone of the Duke program, the Blue Devil defense has been porous of late.
No. 7 Duke did not have an answer for Boston College's Covie Stanwick and Sarah Mannelly as the No. 5 Eagles squeaked past the Blue Devils 13-11 Saturday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium. The duo combined for 10 of Boston College's 13 scores to put a damper on the afternoon's Senior Day festivities.
"From our standpoint I was happy with our performance at the draw and I thought we were pretty efficient offensively," Duke head coach Kerstin Kimel said. "But defensively we're just not playing well right now. We didn't play well at Syracuse, and I don't really know why. We've got to do a little soul-searching during this next week and try to figure it out. We've always been known for being a solid, fundamental team defensively, and we're not playing that way right now."
The offensive fireworks started early, as Stanwick scored the first of her five tallies less than three minutes into the contest. The teams traded goals until Duke gained its first lead of the day at 4-3 on a shot by junior Katie Trees.
That lead was short-lived, however, as the Eagles (10-3, 2-3 in the ACC) evened the score just 22 seconds later as part of an unanswered five-goal outburst to build an 8-4 edge. Although Duke (8-5, 2-3) battled back with a 4-0 run of their own, Mannelly buried her fourth goal of the period with 12 ticks left before halftime, sending the Blue Devils into the locker room trailing 9-8.
"We wanted to put better overall pressure on the ball and I don't think we really ever got there today. [Boston College] will play a slow-down game, and we were mentally ready for that, and they didn't really do that until the second half," Kimel said. "I don't think we were doing a good job of getting organized and playing our typical, solid, on-ball defense so that everyone else could get organized."
True to Kimel's scouting report, the Eagles slowed the game down in the second half. The teams combined to attempt 30 shots in the game's opening 30 minutes, but attempted just nine after intermission. Defensively, Duke made an adjustment to put defender Isabelle Montagne on Stanwick, who scored two goals after halftime.
"We felt like that [matchup] would be better and set up [defender Taylor] Virden to be available on the inside to make plays and come up with balls and that kind of thing," Kimel said. "It just didn't translate, and that's tough and frustrating for us."
Unfortunately for Duke, all four of Boston College's second-half shots found the back of the net, allowing the Eagles to maintain their distance from the Blue Devils down the stretch. Sophomore Kelci Smesko led Duke with four goals on four shots, but the Blue Devils could not break through with enough frequency against an aggressive Boston College defense in the second half.
Duke has now allowed double-digit goals in three of its past four games, including a season-high 19 at Syracuse March 29. With two conference games remaining before the ACC tournament, the Blue Devils are in search of answers on the defensive end.
"You can't give two kids 10 goals, and that's what we did today," Kimel said. "For us, that's now how we play."
Duke can't withstand Boston College attack on Senior Day
Jennie Xu / The Chronicle