The weather might have been dreary and cold, but Duke came out hot. It took less than two minutes for the Blue Devils to score their first goal. They wouldn’t stop.
No. 8 Duke dominated Wofford 20-4 on a chilly Thursday night in Koskinen Stadium. It was a game defined by the first quarter, during which Duke scored 10 goals. The wealth was spread throughout the team. Preseason All-ACC midfielder Catriona Barry led the way with a hat trick. Maddie Jenner started the offensive barrage off with two of the first three, tying Olivia Carner and Abby Landry in the quarter. Katie DeSimone rounded it out with a goal of her own. The fast start propelled the Blue Devils to the early lead that would carry them through the next three quarters.
“We came out strong. We pushed the fast break, pushed the secondary break, and we're getting a lot of looks. And I was really happy with the way we're moving the ball and kind of connecting things across the board,” said Barry. She ended the contest with five goals and an assist, leading the team in points for the second time this season. Coming off of her seven-goal, 11-point performance against High Point, Barry continued executing at a high level, tallying all of her points in the first half alone.
Though she had a great game, Barry was by no means the entire offense. The Blue Devils’ teamwork and selflessness was on full display. Offensive possessions varied between fast breaks and quick goals and longer, more intricate series. During those slower possessions, Duke settled in and shared the ball, waiting for a hole to appear in the Terrier’s defense. It invariably did, and it didn’t matter who took advantage of it.
“Nobody cares who scores, it's just that the ball goes in, and that there's a point on the board,” said head coach Kersten Kimmel. “…There's a selflessness amongst the team.”
That selflessness and teamwork was evident as 10 different players put the ball in the net for the Blue Devils (5-0) and 10 of their 20 goals were assisted, showcasing the depth and talent throughout the roster.
“We have pretty wide-open offenses that allow for a lot of different people's strengths to kind of shine,” said Kimmel.
Jenner possesses one of those unique strengths: draw controls. The senior was incredibly dominant in her role, grabbing 10 before freshman Kerry Nease took over in the second half. That strength, as a team, is invaluable.
“Maddie Jenner's kind of domination on the draw allows us a lot more possessions than other teams,” said coach Kimmel. Duke capitalized on many of those possessions, contributing to their offensive efficacy.
That 10-0 lead grew to 15-0 by halftime. Wofford (1-1) wouldn’t score their first goal until almost eight minutes into the second half, when Elisabeth Ralph caught Duke goalkeeper Kennedy Everson just outside of the pipes to negate the shutout. From then on the game was more even keeled as the Terriers outscored Duke 4-3 in those final 22 minutes. That final push was too-little-too-late for Wofford as the Blue Devils 17-0 run that predated Ralph’s goal, however, was enough to secure the victory.
That cushion did more than just win the game—it allowed more Duke players to see the field.
“Our goal in February was to get a lot of kids a lot of experience so that when we head into our ACC and the majority of our conference season, that we have a lot of people available to play who have gained good experience over these last couple of weeks,” said Kimmel.
The second half proved a perfect opportunity for said experience, particularly for the freshmen on the team. Kerry Nease took over for Maddie Jenner on the draw, notching four of her own. Everson played the third quarter in the net, and Carly Bernstein scored her first career goal.
It only took about a minute for Duke to gain control of the game, which it never relinquished. In that first quarter alone, it led Wofford in shots on goal, draw controls, free position shots, ground balls and clears, to name a few. It came out roaring, ready to prove that it deserves that title of No. 8 in the nation. Throughout exams, suboptimal weather and a packed schedule of five games in two weeks, the Blue Devils never lost focus.
“A focus of ours is just like focusing on what we can control and, you know, just trying to take the uncontrollable as they come,” said Barry. That mindset will be crucial heading into ACC play in just over a week. While its schedule might be tough, Duke is on a mission to prove that they are tougher.
“Our mindset today as it is most games, is just to dominate,” said Barry. And dominate they did.
The Blue Devils will look to continue that domination on Monday evening as they welcome East Carolina to Koskinen before beginning their conference slate.
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Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.