With offensive resurgence, Duke bounces back at BC

After suffering their worst loss in five years, the Blue Devils held grueling, intense practices every day of the week leading up to their contest with Boston College.

It showed.

No. 4 Duke (11-2, 3-1 in the ACC) used a spectacular start to cruise past the Eagles 16-8 Saturday afternoon in Newton, Mass.

"Our kids had a great week of practice," head coach Kerstin Kimel said. "Obviously after the Northwestern loss, the coaching staff had [the players'] attention. They did an awesome job today defensively."

The team that stepped onto the field at Boston College (5-8, 1-3) was definitely not the same squad that was put into a huge early hole by the Wildcats.

After the Eagles scored the first goal of the match, the Blue Devils reeled off seven straight goals and streaked to a 15-3 lead with less than 20 minutes left in the game. Duke was led by Caroline Cryer's three goals and Kristen Waagbo's three goals and five assists, which tied the school record for most assists in a game.

"We did a great job," Waagbo said. "We worked ridiculously hard all week, and we were able to get our momentum back."

The most visible part of Duke's improvement was its defense, as it suffocated the Eagle attack for the first 26 minutes of the match. Duke allowed only three scores during the stretch and goalies Kim Imbesi and Regan Bosch combined for 11 saves. Although Boston College did tally five more goals, the scores came late in the match when the game's outcome was already decided .

Duke's strong defensive play was a far cry from the effort put forth in its loss in Evanston, Ill., when the team gave up 17 goals.

"We just got back to the fundamentals of team defense," Waagbo said. "We were working really hard to help out our teammates."

The Blue Devils forced 20 Eagle turnovers on the afternoon.

The win was even more impressive considering Saturday's match was Duke's fourth straight road contest. Although fatigue was a factor, the Blue Devils still played with the effort and intensity necessary to win.

"The kids were tired-really tired," Kimel said. "They didn't have a whole lot of gas in the tank and still gave a tremendous effort."

With the victory, the Blue Devils moved into a tie with Maryland and North Carolina for first place in the ACC.

Perhaps more importantly, Duke found its stride again, as it got back to doing the things that have translated into success all season.

"We had gotten away from the central way we played defense," Kimel said. "We honed in, and it helped prepare us for the postseason."

Duke clashes with the third-ranked Tar Heels Friday in its last regular-season ACC match. With the top spot in the conference on the line, the Blue Devils anticipate a tough battle-but they are more optimistic heading into the game on a positive note.

"It's great coming off a win," Waagbo said. "Hopefully we can come out really strong on Friday."


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