One year ago, Duke and Maryland produced a show-stopping second-round matchup at the NCAA tournament, with the Blue Devils moving on after a dramatic finish.
This time around, with the two teams matched up on the same stage, there would be no late-game heroics.
Duke’s NCAA tournament run came to an end Sunday in College Park, Md., at the hands of the second-seeded Terrapins. After clawing back from an early 4-0 deficit to trail 5-3 after fifteen minutes, the Blue Devils appeared poised to hang around before the Big Ten champions rattled off 10 straight goals, jumping out to a 15-5 lead with a big second quarter that effectively decided Sunday’s outcome before the half.
“I thought [Maryland] played a great game today,” head coach Kerstin Kimel said after the game. “They are fast all over the field, I thought they did a particularly great job on the draw against us and I thought that it was not the best day for us, unfortunately.”
Entering the second quarter, Duke faced a manageable deficit and had recovered from its rough start to pull within striking distance of the Terrapins. For the first five minutes of the frame, the two sides traded punches. Maryland midfielder Shannon Smith scored the quarter’s first goal to make it a 6-3 game, but Duke attacker Catriona Barry responded minutes later with a highlight-reel goal, diving to her right to sling the ball past goalie Emily Sterling and into the net.
Maryland’s Eloise Clevenger raised the bar set by Barry even higher, going behind the back to connect from a tough angle and complete her hat trick before 20 minutes had passed. Again, Duke answered, this time with a goal from sophomore midfielder Katie Keller.
The back-and-forth ended there, however, as Maryland scored the next 10 goals and held the Blue Devils scoreless for the next 22:52. The Terrapins hadn’t just halted Duke’s comeback bid; they had destroyed it.
It was Maryland’s hot start that set the tone for the game, with the Terrapins jumping out to a quick 4-0 lead with a pair of goals from Clevenger and one apiece from graduate midfielder Grace Griffin and junior attacker Libby May, the latter of whom would go on to score a game-high five goals. Aided by a strong all-around showing in the draw circle, Maryland wasted no time announcing its presence on its home field.
The Terrapins would maintain their advantage in draw controls to the end, winning the draw battle 18-10 and using a steady advantage in possessions and shots to dictate the pace of the game. Matched up against Duke’s Maddie Jenner—who became the single-season NCAA record-holder in draw controls Friday—Maryland’s success there was a crucial part of its overall performance.
“It was just a tough day for us,” Kimel said. “And obviously [the draw control is] a huge part of our game and to not have it resulted in giving them a lot of possessions that made it hard for us… and they capitalized, they did a great job.”
Outside of the second quarter, the Blue Devils played the Terrapins fairly even, losing no frame by more than two goals and allowing just four scores in the second half. But as Duke found defensive success late—Kimel opted for a zone scheme after the break—its offense faltered, totaling one goal in the final 30 minutes on a free position shot by senior attacker Anna Callahan.
“We have a zone, you saw it in the second half, I wish we had gone to it earlier,” Kimel said. “I think it’s a very taxing zone, and obviously, given the heat, we were trying to be smart about when we were going to utilize it.”
With the loss, Duke’s season reaches its conclusion after a bumpy final month of play. After a landmark home win against then-No. 2 Boston College in April, the Blue Devils suffered consecutive losses to No. 1 North Carolina in the regular-season finale and to Notre Dame in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, leading right into the first round of the NCAA tournament against John Hopkins.
The Blue Devils might not have reached their NCAA tournament potential, but they put together a remarkable 15-2 regular season and would appear to have a strong foundation heading into the offseason. As always, they will lose veteran players and leaders to graduation but remain primed for another strong run with young talent across the board.
The NCAA tournament remains in College Park another weekend, with Maryland set to host No. 7-seed Florida in the quarterfinals Thursday.
“Kudos to them,” Kimel said of Maryland. “I think they’ve got a lot of life in them moving forward in the tournament and I think that they will be a tough out.”
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Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.