The Blue Devils were stuck in an offensive funk for the first 20 minutes despite dominating offensive possession.
They were winning just 3-2 despite attempting 16 shots on goal and nine eight-meter attempts, and had just committed a shot clock violation, giving the underdogs a chance to tie the score a third of the way through the contest.
Instead, though, goalkeeper Jamie Lockwood forced a turnover, and just like that, Duke rediscovered its shooting touch.
The 12th-ranked Blue Devils went on a two-, and then a five-goal run bridging the two halves to distance themselves in a 17-8 victory against Davidson at Koskinen Stadium Monday afternoon. Duke controlled the pace throughout the game, and leading scorer Charlotte North led the way with a game-high five goals, including her 100th marker in Duke blue.
“It feels good [to reach the 100-goal mark], but it definitely feels better to get the win,” North said. “We had a lot of good moments today as an offense collectively, and a lot of people contributed.”
Especially after scoring just nine goals against then-No. 8 Penn, the eighth-best scoring offense in the nation really needed a scoring burst. After Catriona Barry notched her first of two goals with 8:25 left in the first half, the floodgates began to open.
By the time the halftime buzzer sounded, Duke (7-2) had racked up nine goals, making its prior offensive struggles seem laughable.
“We were trying to get the kids—at least the midfielders as they were rotating in and out and a couple of the attackers—to understand how their defense was shifting and where the open looks were,” Blue Devil head coach Kerstin Kimel said. “We started to be able to find those a little easier [during the run].”
On the other side of the ball, Duke’s defensive unit gave its offense plenty of time to figure out its scoring issues. The Blue Devils held the Wildcats (6-2) scoreless for nearly 17 minutes in the first half after the visitors took a 2-1 lead, and then for more than 14 minutes in the second half as Duke stretched its lead to 14-4.
The Blue Devils were dominant defensively for the majority of the contest, committing just 11 fouls while forcing 10 turnovers. Oftentimes, Davidson would struggle to get into its offensive sets during its few opportunities, as Duke dominated once against on the draw, securing 22 draw controls to the Wildcats’ five.
And when the ball was loose, the Blue Devils were often the first ones to get to it, as they nabbed 15 more groundballs than Davidson.
“If [for] our attack, the balls just aren’t going in…we just want to get the ball back to them so they can do their thing,” defender Callie Humphrey said. “It’s just all-around hustle and that mindset to come together after we’ve committed a foul and work our butts off.”
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Even with the game in its final minutes and the outcome determined, Humphrey managed to bring the Duke faithful to its feet. After a Blue Devil timeout with one minute remaining, Humphrey created a turnover, joined the offense, and forced a foul to give her a free-position opportunity. Despite Duke’s efforts from the eight-meter mark to that point—the Blue Devils finished the game with just six goals on 17 chances—their sideline was confident that Humphrey would score on her first career shot.
She did just that.
“Callie always knows not just her own job on defense, but through the midfield and all the way down to the attack,” North said. “She knew everything about that goalie.”
Duke will have a few days to work on its free position chances before traveling up to Charlottesville, Va., to take on eighth-ranked Virginia as it hopes to move to 3-0 in the ACC.
“I couldn’t believe at halftime that we were 1-11 [on free-position opportunities],” Kimel said. “To me, those are like free throws. We have to be able to make them.”