Through one quarter the score was tied at 3-3. Six apiece at the half. It was 10-9 Virginia after three periods. Then, less than halfway through the final 15 minutes, Duke was staring at a five-goal deficit.
In the Blue Devils’ penultimate regular-season road trip, the 12th-ranked Cavaliers got the best of the visitors 16-12 at Klockner Stadium to remain undefeated on their home turf. No. 24 Duke paced its opponent through the majority of play but could not maintain its momentum down the stretch.
“We tried to force things,” said head coach Kerstin Kimel after the game. “... I think we had 10 turnovers in the last two quarters.”
With just more than one minute to play in the second period and Lexi Schmalz on the eight-meter arc, Duke (6-7, 1-6 in the ACC) trailed by one. Virginia (10-4, 5-2) was on a three-goal run, turning its two-score deficit into its first lead of the day. Schmalz exploded off the line and fired a shot just wide, but she was saved by a delayed penalty. The senior midfielder did not waste the second-chance opportunity, splitting the defenders closing in on either side of her for her second goal of the game, tying the score at 6-6.
The even score did not last long. The Cavaliers took the tie and seemingly broke the game open, scoring four unanswered to open the second half. The nation’s seventh-leading scorer, graduate attacker Ashlyn McGovern, started the run with her first goal of the game, a blistering, unassisted shot from just inside the eight-meter. Sophomore Rachel Clark tallied her first goal of the day while junior Morgan Schwab recorded her third and fourth. With a four-goal lead and less than three minutes remaining in the third period, it looked like Virginia was well on its way to an easy victory.
Then Duke had perhaps its best three minutes of the season.
Graduate attacker and draw extraordinaire Maddie Jenner won a picturesque battle in the circle before bringing the ball down. Sophomore Kerry Nease fired a shot that was saved but scooped up her own ground ball rebound before finding junior Katie DeSimone, who buried the ball in the back of the net.
The Blue Devils won the ensuing draw and notched their second goal in just more than 30 seconds on yet another Schmalz free position. With another controlled draw, DeSimone got the ball to redshirt senior Veronica Hineman for the score, bringing Duke’s deficit to 10-9 with one quarter to play.
“We were aggressive,” said Kimel.
Within three minutes, the Cavalier lead was back to three after a pair of unassisted goals by Clark. She would grab her fourth on a free-position shot with 10:53 to play, the lone Virginia score from the eight-meter.
The Blue Devils’ comeback effort fell short, as their three goals within the final 5:30 were met with two by the Cavaliers. The 16 goals tie the second-most that the Duke defense has given up this season, matching Syracuse’s total and resting only behind Boston College’s 17-score day back in February.
Graduate goalkeeper Sophia LeRose started her second-straight game, the first time she has done so since the opening two contests this year. Her 44 minutes on the field were her most since the season opener against Navy.
LeRose has been dealing with an undisclosed medical condition for the vast majority of the season and has been slowly working her way back into the lineup. She played the first quarter and was replaced by freshman Madison Drebing for the second, which was the initial plan, Kimel said after the game. After having the halftime break to warm back up and reassess, LeRose returned to the field and played all but the final five minutes. Her six saves were her most since that initial start and are an indicator that the graduate student is on her way to 100%.
With their standing in the ACC remaining near the bottom and their NCAA tournament future uncertain, the Blue Devils return Tuesday to Koskinen Stadium to take on High Point in their final nonconference game of the regular season.
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Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.