With 5:34 left in the third quarter of Duke’s momentous defeat of Gardner-Webb Sunday, graduate attacker Maddie Jenner broke the record for most draws in NCAA history.
The 11th-ranked Blue Devils welcomed the Runnin’ Bulldogs to Koskinen Stadium early Sunday afternoon and then quickly sent them packing. Duke allowed Gardner-Webb to leave Durham with just one goal and two yellow cards to its name; every other goal belonged to the home team in a 24-1 win. Three games into the season, the Blue Devils remain undefeated and now boast a player with a national record to her name.
“I’m just proud to be a part of this team and [to] have amazing teammates, and I'm really grateful for the relationships I've made with my teammates,” said Jenner following her landmark performance.
“To feel the way they celebrated me was just a really special moment,” Jenner added.
It was a relaxing Sunday afternoon for Duke’s defense. The four players in charge of keeping Gardner-Webb away from senior goalkeeper Shaye Fitzpatrick had little work to do, as the Runnin’ Bulldogs rarely held possession long enough to make an offensive play.
Instead, the defense watched and listened as the names of junior midfielder Maddie McCorkle and junior attacker Katie DeSimone took over the loudspeaker in Koskinen Stadium. The pair took care of the game neatly and quickly, taking turns scoring at almost every opportunity. McCorkle tallied four goals while DeSimone tallied five, with all of that scoring coming in the first half. The momentum was palpable as the Blue Devils (3-0) put away goal after goal, clearly riding the wave of each other’s energy and brightening up a cloudy Durham day with a showcase of talent.
“I thought both [McCorkle and DeSimone] did a great job, DeSimone in particular, just letting the game come to her. And I think with that, the whole offense was just moving the ball and sharing the ball really well and playing fast,” said head coach Kerstin Kimel.
Jenner repeatedly opened up scoring opportunities, winning possession on 18 of the game’s 25 draws, winning enough to put her career total at 646 and to crack that all-time record.
“We're just so proud of Maddie,” said Kimel. “She just worked so hard. And she cares so much. She has such an intellectual approach to how she takes the draw … and I'm really glad that we were able to do it here.”
Jenner’s first draw kickstarted the match: The Annapolis, Md., native sent the ball flying at a Runnin’ Bulldog defense that was unable to stop DeSimone’s first goal, a wraparound shot that landed less than a minute into the first quarter. Gardner-Webb (0-2) reacted fast, scoring to momentarily tie the game — but that would be the last time.
A handful of minutes and three goals later, DeSimone returned to the net, spinning around and shooting from behind her back. It went straight past Gardner-Webb’s Danielle Burke to put Duke up 5-1.
From there, it all belonged to the Blue Devils, who took over with stubborn ball retention and sharp passes around the 12-meter fan. The offensive effort was shared between the whole squad, with 13 different Blue Devils managing a goal and nine earning credit for an assist. When the clock stopped to signal the close of the first quarter, Duke was up 9-1. The Blue Devils doubled their total in the second period, effectively sealing the game long before retiring to the locker room for halftime.
“They're coachable,” Kimel said. “They know how to follow directions. That sounds so elementary and basic, but it's really important in terms of being able to execute the game plan and handle situations.”
A 17-goal lead heading into the second half presented Kimel with the opportunity to introduce some of Duke’s less experienced players. With graduate goalkeeper Sophia LeRose out sick, Fitzpatrick headlined this effort, impressively filling LeRose’s shoes by holding down the fort and not allowing any goals after that first one from Gardner-Webb. The Batavia, Ill., product rotated off the field after the first half to be replaced by freshman Madison Drebing, who saved all of the shots that the Runnin’ Bulldogs were able to get past Duke’s fierce defense.
“Both Shaye [Fitzpatrick] and Maddie Drebing have been playing well. And so I think that we felt like we needed to give them the opportunity to get in there today and prove themselves, and be prepared,” said Kimel.
Drebing was accompanied by more young talent, including sophomore attackers Carly Bernstein and Izzy Marsh, who were both able to contribute to Duke’s victory when given the chance. The former threw in two goals and the latter added an assist before scoring herself just 15 seconds before the clock ran out. It was the last goal of the game and the first of the season for Marsh.
The Blue Devils welcomed Gardner-Webb to their home field just a few days after a road win at Davidson. On Wednesday, Duke won 18-9 against the Wildcats — another comfortable run for Kimel’s team, which carried a wide lead from start to finish. A more competitive matchup than Sunday offered, the Davidson victory came from Blue Devil regulars: Graduate attackers Jenner and Anna Callahan, alongside Bernstein, each managed to pull out a hat trick.
“Our goal was to try to get a lot of people on the field and playing today,” said Kimel. “And just make sure that we're pretty well-rested heading into our first ACC game next week.”
That ACC game will come Saturday with a team trip to Chestnut Hill, Mass., where the Blue Devils will challenge Boston College on the road.
Mackenzie Sheehy contributed reporting.
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Sophie Levenson is a Trinity first-year and sports features editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.