Strong defense leads Blue Devils to 2 wins

It was all about defense this weekend for Duke.

The second-ranked Blue Devils (4-0) forced a critical turnover late in the game to outlast No. 13 Richmond (2-1) 10-7 Friday night, and they used smothering defense to steamroll William & Mary (0-1) 15-3 Sunday.

"This year we've really emphasized defense," head coach Kerstin Kimel said. "The little adjustments that we keep making have helped a lot."

Friday's contest was neck-and-neck for most of the night. The score was tied at seven with less than eight minutes left in the second half. Duke, however, tightened up its defense, and senior midfielder Michelle Menser forced Spider attacker Mandy Friend into a turnover when the outcome of the game was still in doubt. The Blue Devils scored three straight goals to clinch the win.

Sunday, the Duke defense strangled the William & Mary attack. Duke held the Tribe scoreless for the first 36 minutes of the game, and it only converted three of its 18 shots into goals.

The defensive effort was led by sophomore goalie Kim Imbesi, who recorded six saves. Imbesi denied attackers in multiple one-on-one situations and stopped a penalty shot with 25:47 left in the second half.

"Our goal was to hold them below five," Imbesi said. "We had a mentality to not allow easy goals, and my defense pushed them too wide."

While the Duke defense remained consistent in both games, the attack was a different story. The Blue Devils struggled to execute on offense against the Spiders, who concentrated most of their defenders near the goal.

Playing in the rain against William & Mary, however, Duke started its offensive barrage quickly and never looked back. The Blue Devils tallied five goals within the first 10 minutes and took a 7-0 lead into halftime. After a William & Mary goal with 23:34 left in the second half, Duke scored two goals in the next three minutes to take an 11-1 lead that continued to grow as the game went on.

"I wish we had scored more on Friday," Kimel said. "We weren't patient with our movement and settled for some cruddy shots. I was very pleased today that we were able to score 15 goals, particularly with the weather conditions."

The Blue Devil attack was extremely balanced in Sunday's win. Sophomore midfielder Carolyn Davis, junior attacker Caroline Cryer and senior attackers Leigh Jester and Kristen Waagbo all recorded hat tricks. Cryer now has 16 goals through four games.

With its two wins this weekend, Duke is 4-0 for the fourth straight year. And as this weekend's results indicated, the Blue Devil defense has been a major reason why Duke has been able to overpower its opponents so far. The Blue Devils will need their defensive prowess to stay consistent when they open up conference play Saturday at Maryland.

"We need to continue improving," Kimel said. "We have to focus on our game across the board."


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