College lacrosse is a small world after all.
No. 4 Duke takes the road for the first time this the season to face Navy Friday at 4 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, but will still see plenty of familiar faces. The trip—bumped up a day from the originally scheduled Saturday contest due to impending weather conditions—will be the Blue Devils’ first to Annapolis, Md., since defeating the Mids in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Although much of that 2013 Duke team has graduated, goalkeeper Kelsey Duryea—who contributed 10 saves in the 10-5 2013 victory—still bolsters the Blue Devil defense, and a veteran Navy team returns many key players. The familiarity between the teams extends beyond the playing field as well. Navy coach Cindy Timchal—in her ninth year at the helm of the program she founded—coached Duke head coach Kerstin Kimel in her college career at Maryland, including the Terrapins' 1992 national championship squad.
The Blue Devils are also well acquainted with another member of the Navy coaching staff—former Duke men's lacrosse player Josh Dionne is now in his second season as an assistant coach for the Mids. A member of the 2013 and 2014 NCAA national champion teams, Dionne was a two-time All-American and is now charged with fine-tuning the Navy offense.
“It’s definitely fun to play against a former Dukie,” Duryea said. “[We really have to] be ready for anything. We know he’s going to have some tricks up his sleeve.”
The trip will also be familiar for freshman phenom Olivia Jenner, who will be making a homecoming trip to Annapolis.
Despite never having faced off against her, the Mids will certainly have to factor Jenner into their game plan. The midfielder leads the team—along with sophomore Kyra Harney—with five goals on only eight shots and 11 draw controls in her first two games. In her debut against Campbell, Jenner wasted no time and recorded a hat trick, earning a start in the subsequent 11-8 loss to No. 5 Northwestern.
“If you’re a freshman, you can’t just rely on the fact that you’re a freshman,” Jenner said. “You have to play as if you belong. If there’s an opportunity, I’m going to take it and try to contribute as much as I can to the team.”
The Blue Devils (1-1) will continue to rely on quick contributions from young players like Jenner as they look to fill the void left by a senior class that scored 70 percent of the team’s goals last season. Harney is also off to a promising start with a team-high four assists through the first two games, and also recorded a hat trick in the 20-4 rout against Campbell.
After focusing on the fundamentals during practice throughout the fall, Jenner and Duryea both said the team has room to improve in the execution of the little details as the season progresses. Northwestern took the advantage on draw controls and created 14 Duke turnovers, compared to just eight for the Wildcats.
“If we just play our game and get those ground balls [at Navy] like we saw at Northwestern, then we’ll be able to control the tempo of the game,” Jenner said. “If we’re a cohesive unit on offense, I think we’ll be able to settle things down and set the tempo.”
Although the Blue Devils have the 3-0 series advantage against the Mids (2-0), this year’s Navy offense features a veteran core. Seven starters return from the team that advanced to the Patriot League championship game last season, including 2015 All-Conference honoree Jenna Collins. The sophomore midfielder has recorded five goals, three assists and 11 draw controls through two games for the Mids. Senior attack Codi Mullen will also pose a threat to the Duke defense, as she has found the net six times already this season on only seven shot attempts.
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The matchup between the pipes will be another key in determining the outcome of Friday's contest. Navy goalkeeper Ingrid Boyum has allowed only 11 goals and Duryea is coming off a career performance for the Blue Devils, recording a personal-best 16 saves in the loss to Northwestern.
“[I’m] just taking it as a confidence booster,” Duryea said. “Obviously, it's one game and it's kind of on to the next. [I’ll be] taking some of the things that I did in the game on Sunday and using that to my advantage throughout the season in practice and in games.“
The Duke defense in front of Duryea will once again be without preseason All-ACC honoree Claire Scarrone, as she continues to work back from injury.
For a team that has shown flashes of offensive prowess through the first two games, Duke's first road game as a unit will be a solid test of its progress. Matching up against a team with so many familiar faces will make it all the more fun.