No. 1 Northwestern Overpowers No. 5 Duke

DURHAM, N.C. Lindsay Gilbride and Christie Kaestner combined for 13 points, but the Blue Devils were unable to slow No. 1 Northwestern's top-ranked offense as the Wildcats pulled away in the second half for a 19-14 victory over fifth-ranked Duke Saturday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium.

Duke falls to 9-3 on the year after dropping back-to-back games for the first time since 2008. Northwestern, winner of 38 straight contests, improved to 9-0 on the season with the victory.

The Wildcats' offense entered the match leading the nation with an average of 17 goals per game and did not disappoint on Saturday. Northwestern's 19 goals scored is the most allowed by Duke since the Devils fell to Maryland, 19-18, on March 3, 2007. Brooke Matthews led the way for Northwestern with five goals and Katrina Dowd and Alexandra Frank scored four and three, respectively.

Kaestner, Duke's leader in points on the year with 49, turned in a career day against the Wildcats with a seven-point effort. The Trappe, Md., native netted three goals and tied a career high with four assists to go along with five ground balls. Senior captain Gilbride totaled six points in the match on four goals and two assists.

"There were a lot of goals scored today," head coach Kerstin Kimel said, "but I was really proud of our kids. Everyone fought really hard throughout the game. There were stretches where we were inconsistent in our performance and maintaining our game plan. We were able to score goals at times, but we had a hard time of slowing their offense; they're a very gifted offensive team and they took advantage of their opportunities."

Northwestern wasted little time asserting its offense, scoring the game's first goal a mere 17 seconds into the match. Not to be outdone, the Blue Devils responded two minutes later on a Kaestner score, assisted by Gilbride. The two squads traded two goals apiece over the next 10 minutes before the Wildcats went on a 6-0 tear to take a 9-3 advantage with 10 minutes to go in the opening half.

Northwestern maintained possession throughout that stretch, winning five draw controls to just one for Duke and limiting the Blue Devils to a single shot. For the game, Northwestern totaled 20 draw controls to 14 for Duke.

Trailing by six, the momentum took a huge shift in the Blue Devils' favor beginning with Bridget Nolan's second goal of the season at the 8:56 mark. The score sparked a 6-1 Duke run as the Devils cut the lead to 10-9 at the half. Six different Blue Devils registered goals in the streak, including Nolan, Amanda Jones, Kat Thomas, Sarah Bullard, Gilbride and Virginia Crotty, who netted the final tally with one second left in the first frame.

Dowd extended the Wildcat lead to two early in the second half before Gilbride again brought Duke within one. However, an 8-1 Northwestern spurt covering 20 minutes would be too much for Duke to overcome as the Wildcats held a 19-11 advantage with under four minutes to play.

The Blue Devils would score three unanswered goals to bring the final margin to 19-11.

"We made some adjustments on the draw" said Kimel, "and we were able to win the draw and get some stops defensively that led to goals in the first half. When we had the ball, we knew we could score, but there were just too many stretches where we didn't have possession. For us, we just regroup and get ready to play again tomorrow."

Duke will face Davidson tomorrow, Sunday, April 4, at Koskinen Stadium in its second game in as many days. Game time is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.

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