Having not played in over 11 months, Duke clearly entered Davidson, N.C., hungry for a win.
The Blue Devils started their season with a bang, taking a 4-0 lead in the first six minutes and never looking back, eventually taking down Davidson 16-11. While Duke boasts the No. 14 recruiting class in the nation this season, the real difference-makers Friday evening were the team’s more experienced players, including junior attacker Maddie Jenner.
Jenner showed dominance on the draw all game, with six draw controls in the first half and 11 by the end of the contest. Duke totaled 20 draw controls compared to the Wildcats’ nine.
“For the draw, I definitely feel a big responsibility, but I also can lean on my circle,” Jenner said.
Jenner’s draw controls, particularly at the start of the game, led to a positive domino effect on the energy of the entire team. Graduate student Catherine Cordrey posted a game-high four goals, but the offense as a whole excelled at moving the ball around. With seven different players scoring goals on the night, it’s clear this team is deep.
“We feel like we’ve got a lot of depth. We wanted to get our core group going tonight,” head coach Kerstin Kimel said. “Our mindset is that we want to be able to run people into the ground.”
Duke (1-0) led comfortably for the entirety of the first half, certainly practicing what Kimel preached about running people into the ground. However, at the start of the second half, play began to get more sloppy, with a few turnovers and fouls allowing Davidson (0-1) to cut its deficit to 12-10 with 11 minutes remaining.
Fortunately for Duke, it was able to switch back the narrative and regain control quickly, notching four unanswered goals over the next eight minutes. The Blue Devil offense was relentless around the arc all night, taking shot after shot from a plethora of different players and never allowing the defense to catch their breath.
“I just want to make sure that we have tons of scorers and that the points are spread out,” graduate student attacker Gabby Rosenzweig, who totaled two goals and two assists, said.
Six of Duke’s 16 goals came off assists, emphasizing the depth both Kimel and Rosenzweig were talking about and showcasing one of the deepest rosters Duke women’s lacrosse has had in years.
“Nothing beats experience, at all,” Kimel said. “I think as we continue to practice and compete against people, our chemistry will continue to grow as a team.”
This season will be no cakewalk for Duke, however, with six other ACC squads making up US Lacrosse Magazine’s preseason top 20. But if Duke’s experienced veterans continue to develop chemistry with the team's top freshman class, the Blue Devils certainly have the potential to compete near the top of the conference.
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