The No. 8 Blue Devils wanted to send their seniors out in style.
And that's precisely what they did on Senior Day in a dominating 16-6 win over Boston College Saturday in Koskinen Stadium.
"We have so much of the season left to play and so many important games ahead of us, it can make you start to think, wow, this is almost over," head coach Kerstin Kimel said. "The best way to honor [the senior class] was to go out there and give our signature effort."
Although the team commemorated its seven seniors, it was the play of a sophomore and a junior that secured the overpowering win over the Eagles (4-8, 2-3 in the ACC), with midfielder Danielle Kachulis and attacker Carolyn Davis firing five goals each.
That sort of offensive production has become commonplace for Davis, who has filled the scoring void left by the injury to Caroline Cryer and has notched a team-high 38 goals on the season.
But for Kachulis, who entered Saturday's contest with only seven goals in 12 games, a five-strike outburst Saturday could prove to be the kind of breakout afternoon she and her teammates need as they wrap up conference play.
"I'm really proud of how Danielle played," Kimel said. "She's been working really hard on both sides of the ball to improve her game, and I felt like all of that hard work paid off today.
"She was obviously a big factor in our win and in our performance as a team, and we look forward to having her build on her game today going down the stretch of this season."
Heading into Saturday's game, the Blue Devils (8-5, 2-2) were pressing to find something, or someone, to build upon. They took the field at Koskinen with a four-game losing streak weighing down on them.
Even though all four losses came to teams ranked in the nation's top 12-including a 15-11 defeat at the hands of No. 1 Northwestern April 6-Duke was seeking to rediscover its swagger, and quickly.
Only one conference game remains before the ACC championships later this month.
The Blue Devils indeed found their confidence early, piling on nine goals in the opening period. Davis fired four unassisted goals, two of which came as part of a four-strike scoring barrage in the game's first six minutes.
After the break, Kachulis took over, adding to her team's eight-goal cushion by dominating the second period.
Ninety-three seconds in, junior captain Jess Adam rifled a pass to Kuchulis, who found the back of the net with ease. With its relentless offense, Duke forced Boston College goalkeeper Katie Monaghan to make 13 saves in addition to the 16 goals she allowed.
Blue Devils goalie Kim Imbesi, on the other hand, led her team with four ground balls in addition to her three stops. The disparity in saves between the two goalkeepers speaks to the way the Duke defense was able to shut down its opponent, allowing only 17 shots and forcing the Eagles into 20 turnovers.
"More than anything, it was great for us to get out and play a conference team and come out and play our game for 60 minutes," said Kimel, whose team secured third place in the ACC with the win. "We were due a game where we felt we could be in control, and we were able to do that.
"B.C. beat [North] Carolina. That definitely had our players' attention."
The Blue Devils now face one of their shortest turnarounds of the season when they face Virginia Tech tonight at 6 p.m. in Blacksburg, Va.
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