BLACKSBURG, Va. -- After a strong defensive effort in the first half and a second-half push on offense, the Virginia Tech lacrosse team was unable to surpass the No. 6 Duke Blue Devils, falling 14-6 at Thompson Field Sunday afternoon. Redshirt senior Julia Heaps led Tech with two goals, while Kerin Maurer paced Duke with four goals and added an assist.
Duke (4-3, 1-1 ACC) took advantage of an early turnover by the Hokies (3-3, 0-2 ACC) as Kelci Smesko put the Blue Devils on the board first. Maurer followed up with her first of the game, giving Duke a 2-0 lead in the opening ten minutes of play.
Sophomore Jessi Thon tracked down a wide shot by junior Megan Will and quickly got the ball to Heaps, who attacked the goal and got the Hokies their first score of the day. The Hokie defense had a strong first half, allowing Duke to score just twice more in the opening period on 11 attempts, holding it to its lowest first half scoring of the season, with just four goals. Duke averages just over 10 turnovers per game this year, and the Tech defense forced the Blue Devils to commit their average in the first 30 minutes alone.
Production for both teams remained limited to open the second half. Duke spread out a four-goal run over the first 17 minutes of the second half, making it a 7-1 game. Tech finally added to its total with just under 12 minutes left to play. Will snuck in a free position shot and less than ten seconds later junior Meg Bartley fired in a pass from Thon to try and get things going for the Hokies.
Duke’s Sydney Peterson put away back-to-back goals over her own, attacking from behind the cage and working her way in for a quick fire up close. Tech again tried to rally back with under five to play, as junior Cawley Bromley came from behind the goal looking for the set up but found an open look and buried it. Thon found herself of the latter part of another quick Hokie scoring opportunity, this time scoring her only goal of the game. After Tech won the draw and she used a spin move around her defender to move through the middle and get an open look on goal.
Duke tacked on three more scores in the closing minutes of action, and a long relay from junior Jack Boissonneault to Heaps down field after a Blue Devil turnover with 39 seconds left would help lessen the already determined outcome.
Thon caused four turnovers in the game, also grabbing three ground balls, while Tech goalie Meagh Graham played a very aggressive game in cage, coming out to intercept and disrupt Duke’s attempts to move the ball. She finished causing three turnovers and picking up six ground balls. Tech forced the Blue Devils to commit a season-high 18 turnovers in the game, but hurt itself on the other end committing 17 of its own.
Duke took 20 shots in the second half, to outshoot the Hokies 31-24 in the game, while also taking a 14-8 edge on the draw.
Graham suffered the loss for Tech but finished with eight saves. Kelsey Duryea picked up the win for Duke and made 13 saves in the game, also causing a pair of turnovers and picking up five ground balls.
The Hokies take a break from league play this week, traveling to Delaware for a 4 p.m. game on Wednesday, March 12.
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