Duke women's lacrosse's season comes to an end with loss to Loyola Maryland in NCAA tournament

Senior midfielder Katie Keller takes a shot in Duke's game against Louisville.
Senior midfielder Katie Keller takes a shot in Duke's game against Louisville.

Coming into Friday afternoon’s matchup against Loyola Maryland, Duke needed to prove it deserved to be included in the NCAA tournament. And through three quarters of play, the team put on a selection-worthy performance. Yet the final 15 minutes — full of missed opportunities and slip-ups — dashed the Blue Devils’ chances of a redemptive postseason run.

In its return to the national tournament, Duke (10-9, 4-5 in the ACC) fell in a heartbreaking 16-11 defeat to the eighth-ranked Greyhounds after a back-and-forth contest for much of the game. Senior attacker Katie DeSimone led the charge for the Blue Devils with five goals and an assist, but she could not make up for the damage done by Loyola Maryland’s trio of Chase Boyle, Regan Kielmeyer and Catie Corolla, who put 11 tallies on the board for the Greyhounds. With the season-ending loss, Duke once again finds itself heading back to Durham empty handed.

“They’re a very experienced, championship-caliber team,” said head coach Kerstin Kimel. “They capitalized on our mistakes, whether it was a turnover or whether it was defensive mistakes…or not finishing offensively.”

Heading into the fourth quarter, it looked like the game was going down to the wire. The teams were tied at 11, yet the Blue Devils seemingly held the cards. DeSimone and fellow senior Maddie McCorkle each capitalized off their free-position opportunities to score two goals in the final minutes of the third period to swing the momentum in their direction. However, Loyola Maryland quickly shut down any hopes of a Duke upset.

The Greyhounds went on a five-goal rampage in the final quarter, stifling the Blue Devils while exploding offensively. Three of those tallies came in the first four minutes of the period, with Boyle leading the way. The Tewaaraton Award finalist easily converted a free-position shot before slicing up the middle of the eight meter to stymie netminder Kennedy Everson. A final goal from Kielmeyer with 3:54 on the clock resoundingly silenced the Duke crowd and secured the Loyola Maryland victory.

“We had a couple of careless defensive mistakes that I felt we shouldn’t have,” said Kimel.

Despite the fourth-quarter disappointment, the Blue Devils started the matchup off on the right foot. They drew first blood after graduate midfielder Lexi Schmalz drove to the cage for an easy shot 47 seconds in to give Duke the 1-0 lead. The defense was just as sharp from the opening whistle, restraining the Greyhounds for over seven minutes before they got on the board. The shutout effort was spearheaded by Everson, who had three stellar saves over that time span. The Blue Devils continued to dominate offensively throughout the first quarter, as goals from Mattie Shearer and DeSimone gave them the 4-2 advantage.

“I think that we did a good job of limiting their top dogs,” said Kimel. “And giving [Everson] shots she could save, for the most part.”

Loyola Maryland, however, showed flashes of what was to come. Before the first period was up, Kielmeyer cashed in on a free-position shot to bring her team within one. Senior Sydni Black took it from there, dodging her way past several Duke defenders with only eight seconds left on the clock to tie the contest as the quarter came to a close. With that, the Greyhounds clawed their way back into the game.

They continued to look strong throughout the rest of the first half, scoring three goals to garner the 7-5 lead heading into the locker room. Kielmeyer and Corolla each got on the board, while junior Georgia Latch faked out a defender before putting a bounce pass in the back of the net. McCorkle was the only Blue Devil to break through on a free-position opportunity, but Loyola Maryland remained in the driver’s seat. However, the team’s star — Boyle — was limited in her action.

“They’ve got three kids that can just set the world on fire offensively, and I think we did a pretty good job limiting them,” said Kimel. “I mean…Boyle only had one goal going into the fourth quarter.”

Out of halftime, Duke once again regained some semblance of control in a volatile contest. Adjustments on the draw allowed the Blue Devils to get more offensive possessions, which turned into tallies on the board. 

Schmalz kicked things with a bullet from the left side of the eight meter to pull Duke within one. Then, DeSimone got back in the scoring groove, driving up the middle of the field and dodging past a multitude of defenders before a low-bounce shot got the better of Greyhound goalie Lauren Spence. 

The Bay Shore, N.Y., native shared the wealth less than a minute later, feeding a streaking Carly Bernstein who easily found the upper left corner of the cage. Just like that, the Blue Devils reclaimed the lead. DeSimone would go on to add two more goals to her name before the third quarter was up, bringing her to 63 on the year.

“I think we had a really great week of practice where she was well prepared for the physicality of [today’s] game,” said Kimel. “Five goals and an assist…I think we couldn’t ask for a lot more out of her today.”

With Duke’s season at its end, the Blue Devils will look to regroup this offseason in hopes of finding greater success in both the ACC and the nation at large next year.


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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