ChronSports' Top 10 of 2022 — No. 9: Duke women's lacrosse excels in thrilling season

Duke put together a strong run in 2022 before eventually fizzling out in postseason play.
Duke put together a strong run in 2022 before eventually fizzling out in postseason play.

As 2022 comes to a close, The Chronicle's sports department takes a look back at the biggest stories of the year in Duke athletics. Each day, we will review a major game, event or storyline that helped shape the course of the year for the Blue Devils. 

Coming in at No. 9: Duke women's lacrosse put together a strong season, highlighted by a record start and a thrilling win at home against Boston College. For the full list, click here.

Coming off of the 2020-21 season, there were few signs that the Blue Devils would achieve greatness. Ending their previous campaign with an 11-8 overall record and going 4-6 in conference play, it seemed as though Duke just could not prove that it belonged among the best of the best. The one glimmer of hope came for the Blue Devil faithful, however, in the squad’s 13-12 win over reigning national champion and No. 12 Maryland in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Still, Duke generally displayed mediocrity instead of superiority.

Yet the 2022 season had the makings of something different, with an experienced squad looking to return the Blue Devils to national prominence. Against the odds, they did just that, earning a 16-4 overall record and going undefeated at home.

Opening their campaign with six straight wins, Duke boasted a high-powered, aggressive offense that outscored opponents 131-39. The Blue Devil domination earned them their best start to a season since 2015, when they made it all the way to the NCAA semifinals. Despite such early success, the question still remained as to whether or not Duke could contend with the ACC’s best in conference play.

Even though they lost their league opener to then-No. 3 Syracuse, the 18-16 score was proof that the Blue Devils could challenge the best in the nation after leading the Orange 9-2 at the half behind big performances from graduate student Catriona Barry and sophomore Katie DeSimone.

Chomping at the bit for an ACC win after narrowly missing out on glory, Duke pulled out a 15-14 win against Pittsburgh in its next contest to notch its first conference victory of the campaign. From there, the Blue Devil train kept rolling for three more league wins. Most notably, head coach Kerstin Kimel’s squad took down No. 14 Notre Dame and No. 16 Virginia. 

With eight straight wins against talented opponents after the loss to Syracuse, Duke’s season was already a huge success. Nonetheless, the crowning achievement for the Blue Devils that returned them to the national conversation came in their second-to-last contest of regular-season play against women’s lacrosse titan, Boston College.

The second-ranked Eagles came into Koskinen Stadium on the now-infamous April day looking to put Duke in its place. After all, they were the reigning national champions and had superstar attacker Charlotte North, a former Blue Devil who would go on to set the NCAA career goal record and earn her second-straight Tewaaraton Award. 

Instead, Duke went on to shock Boston College in a 16-15 upset. In a last-ditch effort to earn the victory, senior midfielder Maddie Jenner scored an alley-oop from a pass off the stick of junior attacker Caroline DeBellis. The win marked the first time the Blue Devils had beaten the Eagles since 2017 and put Duke in contention for an ACC title. 

After reaching the pinnacle, it seemed as though the Blue Devils would have a chance to continue their magical run into the postseason, even after their nine-game win streak was snapped in a blowout loss to then-No.1 North Carolina. 

Unfortunately for Duke, its firepower petered out when it was needed most. Despite earning the No. 4-seed in the ACC tournament, the Blue Devils exited early after a 19-11 loss to No. 5-seed Notre Dame.

At that point, Duke could not recapture the momentum that it once had. Kimel’s squad still made the NCAA tournament and notched a first-round victory over Johns Hopkins. Yet when they encountered their familiar foe in then-No. 2 Maryland, the Blue Devils could not pull off the same upset that they did in 2021.

Despite a disappointing end, Duke still had plenty to be proud of. The Blue Devils turned in one of their best-ever seasons since the program’s inception in 1996. Finishing as the 13th-ranked team in the nation, the squad had four All-Americans and several all-region and all-conference selections.

With many star players from last year’s squad suiting up for Duke once more, the 2023 campaign promises more star power and glory for the Blue Devils.

READ MORE on Duke women's lacrosse's season:

Jenner's late goal leads No. 7 Duke women's lacrosse to home win against No. 2 Boston College

Duke women's lacrosse ends NCAA tournament run with second-round loss to Maryland

Duke women's lacrosse eliminated by Notre Dame in ACC Championship quarterfinals

Duke women’s lacrosse matches best start since 2006 with tight win at Virginia Tech

Maddie Jenner makes history in Duke women’s lacrosse's blowout win against Davidson

Mackenzie Sheehy profile
Mackenzie Sheehy | Blue Zone editor

Mackenzie Sheehy is a Trinity sophomore and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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