As the sun set and twilight dawned upon the sky, 12 Blue Devils and 12 Cardinals ran onto the field prepared to dominate. But in the darkness of the night, only one team found the light—Duke—which tallied its third-straight victory at home.
The Blue Devils took down the visiting Cardinals 16-12 Thursday night at Koskinen Stadium. The group was relentless on offense from the get-go, starting the contest with a 3-0 scoring run off respective goals from sophomore attacker Katie DeSimone, junior middie Olivia Carner and graduate attacker Catriona Barry.
DeSimone led Duke in the contest with four goals and one assist. Barry and senior Maddie Jenner followed in suit, with Barry scoring two goals and three assists and Jenner tallying three goals and 13 draw controls.
The Cardinals played aggressively to keep a grip against the dominant Duke team, exemplary through their 10 fouls by the first media timeout. Yet, the Blue Devils remained strategic on attack by succeeding at their dodges and executing an unstoppable defense to get through to the cage. As Louisville tried its best to get within the 12-meter, Duke just kept keeping the Cardinals out.
“Louisville is a good team, and they’re an ACC opponent…it’s always like a tough game because they play kind of an unconventional style—they have a lot of Canadians—and so we really felt like we needed to try and throw some things at them from a defensive standpoint that would not allow them to get into the rhythm of their offense,” head coach Kerstin Kimel said of her team’s strategy heading into the match. “...I think we did a really good job of [that], I think we were really, really solid in terms of disrupting their normal looks.”
With 12:34 left in the second quarter, Barry landed a shot in the back of the net that would set the tone for the rest of the contest. Her teammates, Carner and DeSimone, followed with subsequent goals as Duke (9-1, 2-1 in the ACC) maintained most ball possessions throughout the next two minutes. It was Duke’s third scoring run of the night, and the first time it extended its lead to six—a lead that the Blue Devils would keep for the majority of their time on the field that night.
At the beginning of Duke’s first scoring run in the first 15 minutes of play, there were times that the Cardinals (5-5, 1-3) managed to strike back. But it was clear from that moment Barry started the run in the second quarter that Duke would remain the dominant team. While the Cardinals tried their best to get one in the back of the net, Duke remained unrelenting on defense, doubling as Louisville players tried to get inside the 12-meter and having each Blue Devil remain locked on their player.
“I thought we were making plays defensively. I thought we were scoring really well. We were 11 for 20 in the first half shooting; that’s pretty good. 50% or over [in accuracy]—we’re happy,” Kimel said.
After a missed shot by Louisville’s Allegra Catalano at 4:10 in the first quarter, goalie Sophia LeRose’s clear to her teammates led the beginning of the Blue Devils’ second 3-0 run to edge out the Cardinals from getting closer. With 0:39 remaining, Louisville returned to the aggression it showed at the start of the game, with Ashley Osborne taking the ball from Barry off a turnover that would end in a goal by Louisville’s Hannah Morris, finishing the first quarter 7-4.
The second quarter wasn’t as fast-paced as the first, as the Blue Devils only had two goals by the time the first five minutes had passed. But luckily for the team, the Cardinals still hadn’t found their footing, not getting a score in until 2:22 minutes remained on the clock. And Duke ensured that a point from Louisville’s Paige Richbourg would be the last from them of the half—executing doubles on players driving to the cage and finishing with a Katie Keller free position shot with 14 seconds go.
The second half was different from the first, with the Cardinals edging closer to Duke’s advantage and beating them out 3-2 by the first media timeout. While Duke did get five goals in the third quarter, Louisville registered four, doing its best to catch up to the prevailing Blue Devils.
“I think we lost our focus, particularly the tail, I think we've kind of waned, and we have more turnovers in this game than we've had—we had 12 turnovers in the second half, which is very unlike us,” Kimel said. “It wasn't necessarily what they were doing. It was it was us, so we just we just need to clean up.”
The Cardinals outscored the Blue Devils the rest of the half, shutting out Duke 3-0 such as it had done to Louisville plenty of times throughout the contest. Though the Cardinals had the better second half, the Blue Devils’ strong first-half play was enough to get their ninth victory of the season.
Duke will next take on Davidson at Koskinen Stadium Sunday at 2 p.m.
“I love Davidson, it was my first job. I always tell people that had I not come to Duke I probably still be at Davidson today because it's such a great school and in such a neat place,” Kimel said of the competition. “They're going to come up here—they haven't lost. They've got like 10 seniors and a great goalie and they're going to be ready to give us everything they got.”
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.