With the hosting team decked out in visiting jerseys and holding one last chance to punch its ticket to the NCAA tournament, Friday’s game was a classic underdog tale. But not for Duke, which had its conference tournament run cut short due to a locked-in Notre Dame squad.
No. 4-seed Duke seemed to be a shoo-in to reach the semifinals, having already etched a victory against Notre Dame earlier in the season. But the fifth-seeded Fighting Irish were clearly not satisfied with their season ending right then and there, and from the first moments to the final seconds, Notre Dame was the clear winner, pulling off a 19-11 upset to continue its tournament season and secure the .500 record it needed to become eligible for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Despite her team's loss, graduate midfielder Abby Landry remained a leading light for Duke. She notched the Blue Devils' sole goal in the third quarter to close Notre Dame's lead to 17-7, and in the starting minutes of the final frame, the 5-foot-10 Hingham, Mass., native scored one more off of a free position shot to finish the day with a career-best five goals.
However, Landry’s persistent efforts were not enough, as Duke struggled on both offense and defense throughout the 60 minutes of play. When all was said and done, the Blue Devils only made 31% of their shots to Notre Dame’s 73%.
Duke started the contest as it almost always does—with the opening draw control—thanks to sophomore midfielder Katie Keller’s work in the circle. Keller helped get the ball down the field and to sophomore attacker Katie DeSimone’s stick for a shot at goal, but Notre Dame goalie Bridget Deehan had no trouble making the save to give her team its first possession of the game.
It didn’t take long after that for Notre Dame to get the scoreboard up and running, as 40 seconds after Deehan’s clear, Notre Dame’s Jackie Wolak passed the ball to senior attacker Maddie Howe, who sent it into the back of the net. One Fighting Irish draw control and less than 30 seconds later, Wolak found sophomore midfielder Kasey Choma, who quickly tallied Notre Dame's second goal. Though junior midfielder Olivia Carner then caused a turnover to regain possession for Duke, that possession ended in a turnover, and just about 30 seconds after her team's second goal, sophomore attacker Madison Ahern scored for the Fighting Irish once again.
The first three scorers led the game all day long for the Fighting Irish. In just the first quarter, Choma had a hat trick, Ahern earned a second score, and Wolak and Hannah Dorney each added one goal to round out Notre Dame's eight-goal quarter. On the other hand, Duke struggled to maintain possession and, despite having more shots than Notre Dame, only scored twice in those first 15 minutes.
Duke attempted to make the comeback it needed in the second quarter, threatening to chip away at Notre Dame’s six-point advantage. But despite a quick huddle and regroup on the sidelines, the Blue Devils struggled from the get-go.
The Blue Devils got the ball on their side several times in the second frame but struggled at placing their shots. Notre Dame ended its opponent's hopes of claiming a lead, tallying three goals to start the quarter before Landry dodged and rolled off of her defender to score on a wide-open shot within the eight-meter. Maddie Jenner and DeSimone each scored once within the quarter, and Landry scored another goal, but this happened while Notre Dame tallied three more to make its lead 14-6 at halftime.
Though their conference tournament ride is over, the Blue Devils now get a little more than a week to regroup before the NCAA tournament begins May 13.
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Ana Young is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.