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The Devil's in the details: Men's lacrosse secures another wild win, softball walks it off twice

Michael Sowers' late-game heroics pushed Duke men's lacrosse to yet another one-goal win.
Michael Sowers' late-game heroics pushed Duke men's lacrosse to yet another one-goal win.

They say the devil is in the details. But in Durham, the Blue Devils are in the details—and numbers.  

Each week, the Blue Zone will dissect five key numbers from last week's action in Duke sports, whether they be historic or underwhelming. This week, let the numbers take you inside men’s lacrosse’s miraculous comeback win, softball’s duo of walk-off victories and more.


Following its overtime victory against Notre Dame this past Thursday, No. 2 Duke men’s lacrosse (12-1, 4-1 in the ACC) holds sole possession of first place in the ACC standings, with wins against every other team in the conference. Despite all that, the Blue Devils’ goal differential in ACC play stands below zero at -1, with Duke notching 61 goals across its five conference matchups while allowing 62.

So, how did this happen? It’s rather simple, actually—the Blue Devils’ four wins in conference play have been by a margin of one goal each, while they suffered their lone loss at Notre Dame by a margin of five goals. Duke’s ACC goal differential can break even with a win in the team’s regular season finale this Sunday at No. 3 North Carolina.


No. 6 Duke women’s lacrosse (9-6, 4-6) fell in a heartbreaker this past Friday, with No. 1 North Carolina notching the game-winner with just 17 seconds to go to secure the 12-11 victory. The finish extended the Blue Devils’ losing streak to 12 in the Tobacco Road rivalry, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t positives to take away from the defeat.

Duke’s 11 goals marked the most any team has scored against the undefeated Tar Heels all season, with the Blue Devils also holding North Carolina to its third-lowest scoring output of the year. Head coach Kerstin Kimel and company will look to build off that strong performance in the ACC tournament as the No. 5 seed, with the team opening play with a quarterfinal matchup against No. 4 seed Notre Dame Wednesday.


No. 24 Duke softball (34-10, 22-10) had quite the weekend against North Carolina this past Thursday through Sunday. The Blue Devils swept their Tobacco Road counterparts in the four-game set, including two walk-off wins to begin and end the series. The first came Thursday evening, with senior Jameson Kavel notching a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to secure the come-from-behind 4-3 win. 

On Sunday, Kavel came in clutch once again, raking a two-run homer to tie the score in the final frame before junior Kristina Foreman clinched another 4-3 win and the sweep with a walk-off single of her own. Duke will close out its regular season with a Wednesday matchup against Campbell and a four-game series this weekend at N.C. State.


There is no offseason for Duke women’s basketball. Kara Lawson and company added yet another incoming transfer this week, with former Baylor point guard Jordyn Oliver committing to the Blue Devils this past Thursday. Oliver was the No. 12 overall recruit in the class of 2019, and while she averaged just four points per game this past season she’s shown flashes of being an elite defender and distributor. Oliver is one of seven transfers to join Duke this calendar year.


As the calendar turns to May, the college sports calendar begins to turn into NCAA Championship frenzy—especially this year, given the postponements of all fall NCAA tournaments to the spring. One of those tournaments was women’s soccer, for which the bracket was released last Monday and Duke was granted the No. 9 overall seed. This marks the Blue Devils’ highest seeding since the 2017 tournament and the program’s second-highest since 2012. Duke will open play this Saturday against the winner of the Arizona State-Siena play-in.


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