Up-and-Down Duke Dominates Louisville
DURHAM, N.C. – For the second time this season, Duke followed up a loss to an unranked opponent with a victory over an unbeaten nationally ranked foe. The Blue Devils bounce back on Saturday was especially impressive as they hammered fifth-ranked Louisville 16-5. Louisville came into the game 7-0, and had beaten Boston College, Northwestern and Notre Dame in its previous three games.
Duke lost to previously winless Georgetown 10-9 on Wednesday. Earlier this season, Duke followed up a 7-6 loss to Elon with a 12-6 win over Penn.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” said Duke head coach Kerstin Kimel. “That’s a tough turnaround, just in terms of the mental and emotional part of having to get right back on the saddle and start preparing for a tough opponent like Louisville … Each time we’ve bounced back, I think we’ve bounced back better in terms of how we’re performing and how we’re executing on the field. So long as we continue to make steps forward from here on out, I think it’s great.”
Duke now finds itself atop the Atlantic Coast Conference standings with a 2-0 league mark and is 5-4 overall. Louisville slipped to 7-1, 2-1.
A veteran Duke team opened last season with a 9-0 mark on its way to the NCAA semifinals, but following heavy graduation losses, this year’s roller coaster has been far from unexpected.
“Given our schedule, our group is going to have to endure some ups and downs that we didn’t see last year,” said Kimel in the preseason. “We have the talent and athleticism to get to the same place, but we might have to take a different route.”
Maddie Crutchfield, a sophomore who gained valuable experience as a rookie playing alongside a senior-heavy lineup last year, scored the first goal of the game and finished with a career-high nine points (3g, 6a) to lead Duke’s dominant effort. Crutchfield, whose six assists set a Duke single game record, came into the game with 12 points through Duke’s first eight games.
Duke led 2-1 after Louisville’s Julia Wood scored on a free position shot with 20:50 to go in the first half, and then the Blue Devils took off from there. Duke scored the final seven goals of the first half to lead 9-1 at the break and stretched its lead to 11-1 before Louisville finally ended the scoring run at nine.
Senior Kelci Smesko, who missed all of last season with an injury, had a big day for the Blue Devils as well, scoring a career-high six goals. Kyra Harney added four goals and two assists and Maddy Acton had a pair of goals.
Duke senior goalie Kelsey Duryea continued her stellar season, making 13 saves to earn the victory. Duryea has 84 saves in nine games and improved her save percentage to 56.4 for the season.
Kelli Gerding had two goals for Louisville, but the Cardinals three leading scorers – Kaylin Morissette, Cortnee Daley and Hannah Koloski – combined for just one goal on nine shots.
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