Slow shooting, inconsistent defense drop Duke women's lacrosse out of ACC tournament against Boston College

Katie Keller on defense in Duke's home game against Clemson.
Katie Keller on defense in Duke's home game against Clemson.

No. 6-seed Duke faced No. 3-seed Boston College Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament, seeking to avenge its 18-3 loss one month prior. The Eagles, however, took command early and kept their feet on the gas, spoiling Duke’s revenge tour and sending the Blue Devils packing out of Charlotte with a 19-5 loss.

Duke’s offense lacked composure and fire power with seven turnovers and just three shots in the first frame, and senior attacker and Tewaaraton Award nominee Katie DeSimone had a quiet day with just one shot and no points for the first time this season. Despite this, Duke (10-8, 4-5 in the ACC) only trailed 4-2 after the first quarter thanks to senior midfielder Katie Keller and graduate attacker Caroline DeBellis. But Boston College (14-3, 7-2) opened the second quarter with a five-goal run and never let up. Unable to win possessions on the draw circle, Duke couldn’t answer, and when in possession, made unforced errant passes out of bounds. Attacker Rachel Clark took advantage for Boston College with four goals, and three other Eagles had a hat trick as well. At the halftime break, Boston College led 11-3 and went on cruise control the rest of the game, coasting to the win and their seventh straight appearance in the ACC semifinals.  

Despite being outshot 10-3 in the first quarter, the Blue Devils remained a threat early. Seven minutes into the game, graduate midfielder Olivia Carner stole the ball out of the air in a heads-up defensive play and took it downfield to junior attacker Carly Bernstein. She found junior midfielder Mattie Shearer on the right wing of the crease, who then dumped it across the eight meter to Debellis on the opposite side. Debellis quick-sticked it past Eagle goalie Shea Dolce to complete the transition goal, closing the gap to 3-2 and answering the two goals that Boston College had just punched in 41 seconds.

It looked like the game would continue this way, both teams neck-and-neck and trading goals. But Boston College dominated on the draw circle: The Eagles sliced and diced Duke’s defense and scored six unanswered goals between the first and second quarters, winning 13 draw controls to the Blue Devils' three during the first half. With just over three minutes left in the second quarter, DeBellis bailed Duke out with a high stick side shot on the doorstep, but Boston College snuck two more in before the end of the half to command an eight-goal lead heading into the locker room. 

At the half, both teams were shooting 50% and had nine turnovers, but Boston College had 22 shots compared to Duke’s six. The Blue Devils barely had the ball in their sticks due to the Eagles’ relentlessness on the draw circle — and without the ball, the Blue Devils couldn’t score. 

Boston College handily put Duke away in the final thirty minutes. Midfielder Andrea Reynolds continued to win possessions for the Eagles, finishing the day with seven personal draw controls; Duke had a collective five total. The lopsided performance translated to shots, with Boston College outshooting Duke 40 to 13 on the day. DeBellis scored again in the third quarter for a hat trick and freshman midfielder Bella Goodwin also got on the scoresheet, but Boston College held Duke scoreless in the final frame whilst tacking on four more goals of its own. 

After the disappointing defeat, the Blue Devils’ playoff hopes remain in limbo. They are on the bubble of making the NCAA tournament, and will have to wait until Selection Sunday May 5 to know whether they can pop it or not.


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