Duke women's lacrosse's ACC struggles continue as Blue Devils drop road bout at No. 4 Syracuse

Katie Keller winds up a shot during Duke's loss to Clemson.
Katie Keller winds up a shot during Duke's loss to Clemson.

Duke headed north to Syracuse, N.Y., looking for its first conference win in Saturday’s match-up, but could not find an answer to the Orange onslaught. No. 4 Syracuse led the entire game and sent the Blue Devils home with an 15-8 loss to prolong their ACC slump. 

Syracuse scored the first six goals of the game, three of which from graduate midfielder Emma Tyrrell, and never looked back. Duke (3-4, 0-2 in the ACC) only periodically punched in a goal or two to break up its scoring runs. After its initial six-goal lead, Syracuse’s smallest lead was five goals, occurring twice in the second quarter, and its largest was 10 – also occurring twice in the third and fourth quarter, respectively. Tyrrell, a Tewaaraton Award Watch List nominee, finished the day with five goals. The Orange’s 10 other goals came from nine different players. Four of Duke’s eight total scores came in the last six minutes of the game, after Syracuse (3-2, 2-0) had already largely put the game away. 

Duke had a couple of bright moments amid the loss. With just more than eight minutes left in the third quarter, senior midfielder Maddie McCorkle forced a turnover on defense and won the ball for the Blue Devils. Graduate midfielder Olivia Carner brought the ball downfield with pace and fired a pass to junior attacker Carly Bernstein in Syracuse territory. In quick succession, Bernstein tossed it underhand to graduate attacker Caroline DeBellis next to the crease, who saw junior attacker Mattie Shearer on the doorstep. Shearer buried the shot to make it 8-3 and narrow Syracuse’s edge to five goals, but that spark of offense did not turn into a fire. Syracuse bounced back with two quick scores and continued to dominate. 

Both teams struggled with errant passes and turnovers, Duke with 18 giveaways and Syracuse with 17, and the scrappy game saw 30 fouls. The Blue Devils — tied for fourth-worst in the country in fouls per game — gave Syracuse five woman-up opportunities, but the Orange converted only one. 

While turnovers plagued both teams, Syracuse differentiated itself on the draw circle. It finished the day with 20 draw controls, dwarfing Duke’s seven. With the ball in their sticks, the Orange picked apart Duke’s defense and a steady stream of scoring ensued. 

The Blue Devils faced a scoreless third quarter until go-to attacker Katie Desimone found herself one-on-one with graduate goalie Delaney Sweitzer in transition. The senior put it away easily and gave Duke its first score of the second half with only 10 seconds left in the third frame. That score was DeSimone’s second and last of the game, her first game of the season without a hat trick. 

Despite being down eight with just more than two minutes to play, Duke still sought chances to go to the net. DeBellis scored off a free-position shot after being fouled by Sweitzer, who came out of the crease to break up a pass. Her initial shot that connected as she fell to the ground from being pushed from behind was discounted because of the foul, but she snuck a powerful eight meter shot past Sweitzer to come away with a goal nonetheless. 

The Blue Devils scored two more times in the last minute when freshman midfielder Bella Goodwin placed one top left at a difficult angle on the right side of the crease and when senior midfielder Katie Keller charged through the eight for a solo goal from the middle of the men’s crease. 

The deficit brought on from the Orange’s early scoring run was too large, however, and Syracuse dealt the Blue Devils a handy loss despite their last-ditch efforts.

Duke will seek its first ACC win next Saturday afternoon against Pittsburgh in Koskinen Stadium. 


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