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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Irish unable to recover from slow start in loss to Duke

| Monday, March 28, 2022

Entering their game against No. 14 Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon, No. 8 Duke ranked first in the nation in scoring by a wide margin, scoring nearly 20 goals per game. Notre Dame put forth a strong defensive effort to hold them well below that number. Despite that, the Blue Devils jumped out to a big lead early and never relinquished it. They led start to finish and earned a 15-12 victory on a snowy day in South Bend.

Duke opened up the scoring with an unassisted goal from graduate student attacker Catriona Berry. That was just the start of a huge performance from Berry, the third-leading goal-scorer in the nation. She finished with six goals on the day. The Irish quickly answered on a goal from sophomore midfielder Kelly Denes, but Duke started to take over the game from there. They scored two more times in the first quarter and added a pair to start the second, taking a 5-1 lead.

Facing a large deficit, Notre Dame turned to its leading scorers, juniors Madison Ahern and Kasey Choma. They each scored and the Irish cut the lead to two. The rest of the quarter played out evenly, and Duke held a 7-5 lead heading into halftime. Possession stayed a major factor in the first half, as Duke controlled four of five draws in the first quarter as they took the lead before Notre Dame countered by winning six of nine in the second. Duke won 15 to Notre Dame’s 14 over the course of the entire game. Granted, this was a good result for the Irish, given that Duke leads the country in draw control percentage at 67%.

After halftime, the third quarter was much the same as the second: fifteen minutes of hard-fought, back-and-forth play. Just as in each of the first two quarters, the third began with a Duke goal. That pushed their advantage back to three goals. After a scoreless stretch of nearly four minutes, the Irish whittled it back down to two on the first goal of the day from junior attacker Jackie Wolak.

Notre Dame senior midfielder Madison Mote added her second of five goals in the game minutes later. The score was 8-7, and the Blue Devil lead was down to one for the first time since the score was 2-1. Duke’s Berry and Notre Dame’s Mote then traded goals to keep the lead at one. However, Duke scored a critical goal with just seconds remaining in the third to take a 10-8 lead and all of the game’s momentum into the final quarter of play.

Duke took full advantage of that momentum. They started the fourth quarter with three consecutive goals to go up 13-8. After that surge, the five-goal margin represented their largest lead of the game. Despite staring down a sizable deficit with just nine minutes remaining, the Irish refused to quit and fought their way back into the contest. Mote scored a pair of goals in less than a minute. After a Duke goal, Choma and Ahern added two more for Notre Dame. Suddenly, the Irish had a pulse, trailing just 14-12 with still over four minutes on the clock.

After winning the draw, Notre Dame created several chances to close within a goal. But Duke senior goalie Sophia LeRose made three critical saves to prevent an Irish goal. This included one on a free position shot after a foul within the eight-meter arc. After gaining possession, Duke was able to milk nearly all the remaining time on the clock before scoring in the final seconds to seal the 15-12 win.

For Notre Dame, the loss ended their two-game winning streak and continued their disappointing start to the season. They fall to 4-6 and 1-3 in ACC play despite being ranked fifth in the country during the preseason. This record can be partially attributed to the Irish’s struggles in close games. They are 0-3 in games decided by one goal. Notre Dame must put an end to these crunch-time difficulties soon, as they face the top two teams in the nation over the next two weeks.

The Irish have a big opportunity to earn a marquee win as they travel to Chapel Hill to face No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday at 11 a.m.

About Matthew Crow

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