February 22, 2014

No. 4 Northwestern Holds Off No. 5 Duke

from press release

DURHAM, N.C. -- In a game in which neither team led by more than a goal until nearly two-thirds of the way through, No. 4 Northwestern broke out for a 4-0 run midway through the second half and held on for a 12-11 road win over No. 5 Duke Saturday at Koskinen Stadium in Durham.

The win was the second one-goal win over top-10 ranked ACC opponents to open the season for NU, which also downed No. 8 Virginia, 13-12, on Feb. 9. Northwestern has now defeated Duke in 11 straight meetings dating to the 2006 campaign.

Sophomore midfielder Kaleigh Craig led Northwestern with a career-best four goals, surpassing her previous career-high of two set in the season-opener vs. Virginia. Senior Alyssa Leonard corralled seven first-half draw controls and finished with 13 on the game, two shy of her career-best and NCAA record-tying 15 set last year at USC. Leonard, who also scored two goals on the day, passed her former assistant coach Hillary Fratzke for fourth on the NCAA career draw controls record list and now has 329.

Duke scored the game's first goal only 18 seconds after the opening whistle and Northwestern got on the board shortly after as Craig wrapped the crease and bounced home NU's first shot attempt of the day.

The 'Cats took their first lead at 3-2 as Nancy Dunbar had a role in back-to-back Northwestern goals, first on a feed to Blake McHughand then on a solo drive from the left wing. After the Blue Devils tied it on a man-up opportunity, Craig broke free in front of the cage for her second of the day to restore a Northwestern lead.

Craig then had what would have been her third of the day taken off the board on an ensuing stick check, and Duke pulled level at four on another man-up chance midway through the first half.

Leonard added to her work in the draw circle at the 9:44 mark when she beat her defender behind the cage and came around to beat Duke goalkeeper Kelsey Duryea for her third goal of the season. Duke, however, would end the half on a 3-1 run to regain an advantage and enter intermission with a 7-6 lead.

Northwestern needed only 23 seconds to pull level in the second half thanks to an unassisted tally by senior Kate Macdonald, but the Blue Devils quickly responded to move in front, 8-7. Duke's Katie Trees then scored at the 21:49 mark of the second half to set the score at 9-7, the first two-goal lead for either team on the afternoon.

The Wildcats had an answer, however, pulling within one when Kara Mupo fell to her knees while driving but still managed to feed Leonard for a goal. Craig followed that up with an 8-meter goal and, with NU owning possession off the draw circle, Kat DeRondanetted back-to-back unassisted tallies to build a two-goal Wildcats lead.

Craig sandwiched her fourth of the day between a pair of Duke scores to leave the Wildcats in front, 12-11, with 7:22 left.

Duke managed to win two straight draw controls down the stretch, but fell victim to a costly turnover at their offensive restraining line with 6:13 remaining. Following a Northwestern timeout, the Wildcats managed to possess the ball for the duration of the game, with Macdonald recovering a key ground ball after a shot by Craig rang off the Duke goalpost.

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