Duke ends W. lax's season with a 7-6 heartbreaker
The Duke women's lacrosse team (11-5) knew how to beat one of the most explosive teams in the country. Stop Jacque Weitzel '00.
The seventh-ranked Blue Devils stunned the Big Green (11-5) with a 7-6 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament yesterday at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C. The Duke defense held Dartmouth to just six goals, the lowest in 23 games.
The Blue Devils' defensive success was highlighted in their effort in keeping Weitzel away from the net. The senior midfielder leads the nation in goal scoring (4.33 goals per game), but she was held to just two goals yesterday.
Earlier in the season, Duke snapped Dartmouth's 10-game winning streak with an 11-8 victory on April 28 in Hanover. In that game, the Blue Devils held Weitzel to just one goal.
Asked about the Blue Devils' defensive effort, Duke head coach Kirsten Kimel told a post-game news conference, "It was awesome, I really can't say enough. For [defenseman] Meghan Walters, who's a freshman, to hold Jacque Weitzel to three goals in two games, is a tremendous effort in itself."
The Big Green capitalized on only one of their seven free position opportunities. Duke netted one of its four free position chances. Duke outshot Dartmouth 28-22.
More importantly, Duke controlled 44 ground balls, while Dartmouth took 37.
"I felt like their attack did a great job controlling the ball. It was probably one of our best defensive efforts all year and obviously not one of our better attack efforts," Dartmouth head coach Amy Patton told the same news conference.
Dartmouth played without two of its top players -- Melissa Frazier '00 and Kate Graw '00.
"Frazier and Graw are two first-team All-Americans," Patton said. "More than anything, it's two seniors who are your leaders. It's more of their presence on the field, regardless of how good they are."
"But, we've mentally been battling through that all year. It's no excuse, we're never going to use than as an excuse. I think Duke played a good game today," Patton said.
Both teams exchanged goals early in the first half. Duke's Tricia Martin opened the scoring at 1:49. Suzy Gibbons '01 countered with a goal at 7:56.
Weitzel knotted the score at two on a free position goal at 11:24 after Blue Devil Courtney Rogers' tally. Big Green Lenehan and Liz Merritt '01 put Dartmouth up 4-2 with over 15 minutes left in the first half.
However, Duke rallied back with four unanswered goals before halftime to take a 6-4 lead.
"That's kind of how we've been playing all year, a little bit of a roller coaster throughout games," Patton said. "We've seen that in a lot of games, where we go up and the other team comes back or vice versa. I'd say we probably haven't played consistently for 60 minutes all year."
Amy Zimmer '01 assisted Merritt's goal.
The Big Green rebounded in the second half with back-to-back goals by Kerry Lenehan '01 and Weitzel. Lenehan scored at the 5:46 mark of the second half, while Weitzel tied the game with 18:17 left in regulation.
Unfortunately, that was the end of Dartmouth's goal-rush.
Duke's Claire Finn snapped the 6-6 tie with 13:49 left as she put the game-winner past Dartmouth goalie Sarah Hughes '02. The goal was Finn's second goal of the game.
Hughes made 11 saves in the contest, while Duke's All-ACC goalie Shannon Chaney needed to make just eight saves.
Chaney's best save came with 12 seconds left in regulation when she stopped Dartmouth junior Alison Moulin's free position shot to secure the win for the Blue Devils.
"Shannon, to her credit, she's really experienced," Duke coach Kimel said. "She's had to make big saves at the end of tight games to hold on for us, and she did it today."
Duke advances to the Elite Eight and will face No. 2 Princeton on Sunday. Meanwhile, 10th-ranked Dartmouth ended a spectacular season that included a 10-game winning streak. The Big Green also captured their fourth straight Ivy League title with a perfect Ivy League record.
Yesterday, senior midfielder Weitzel ended her sensational four-year career with the College, while renewing almost every single offensive record. She holds the Ivy league's records in all-time goals and points records. She leaves her mark in Dartmouth history as the all-time goals and points leader, while putting new single-season goals and points records.