January 24, 2013

#LMranks: No. 7 Duke Blue Devils (Women)

by Matt Pun | LaxMagazine.com | Team Page/Schedule


Look for attacker Kerrin Maurer to develop her off-ball game as Duke looks to make its second final four in three seasons.
© Kevin P. Tucker

Lacrosse Magazine is counting down its preseason rankings throughout the month of January exclusively on LaxMagazine.com.

Today continues a look at our NCAA Division I Top 20 rankings. For more, visit LaxMagazine.com/LMranks. Follow @LacrosseMag on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #LMranks. The countdown will resume Friday with profiles of the sixth-ranked teams in NCAA Division I men and women.

Power Ratings

Offense: 4*
Defense: 5
Goalkeeping: 3
Draw Control: 3
*Out of 5

Top Returner

M Maddy Morrissey (Sr.)
The third-year midfielder notched 25 goals and will see an increased role in the Blue Devil attack with the departures of Emma Hamm and Kim Wenger. "[With] the way she's trained over the course of the last two seasons and this fall, I think she's really ready to step forward and have a great, breakout season," Duke coach Kerstin Kimel said.

X-Factor

D Gabby Moise (So.)
In her first career start last season, the defender held North Carolina's eventual top scorer Abbey Friend goalless. Tabbed "the quickest, most athletic kid on our team" by Kimel, Moise will again play the role of shutdown defender for the Blue Devils this season. If she continues to improve her skills as a team-defender, Duke will have one of the nation's top defensive units.

What's New?

For the second straight year, Duke welcomes one of the nation's finest recruiting classes. Headlining the class is midfielder Maddy Acton, who racked up 264 goals in her high school career, and played with Trimble and Smith on the U.S. under-19 women's national team. Acton should make an immediate impact for the Blue Devils. U19 team goalie Kelsey Duryea also joins Duke and is recovering from an injury but could play a role. "Even with limited movement in the goal cage, you can see how quick her hands are, and she's got a super stick," Kimel said.

What's Not?

Duke will have a familiar face on the sideline this year. Class of 2007 graduate Kristen Waagbo returns to Durham as an assistant coach for the Blue Devils after two years as an assistant at the U.S. Naval Academy. Waagbo, who helped coach a Navy offense that produced a Patriot League-record 306 goals last season, was Duke's all-time assists leader as a player. She will look to spark the young Blue Devil offense. "It's been fun and exciting to have someone back in our program who was here during a time when our offense was really prolific," Kimel said.

2012 Recap

Record: 12-7 (3-2 ACC)

In a Nutshell: Duke's senior class had the injury bug last season. Kat Thomas missed the first 13 games of the season, Bridget Nolan sustained a season-ending injury in just the third game, and Casey Beyel was sidelined by mid-March. Kim Wenger and Emma Hamm took on even greater roles and kept the team a contender. Martin described the season as feeling "unfinished," and although the Blue Devils advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals, they failed to close out several great first-half performances. Duke took early leads in postseason contests against both Maryland and Northwestern, but could not keep up its performance for the entirety of either game.

High Point: A 10-9 victory over Maryland in the conference opener that propelled the Blue Devils into a five-game midseason winning streak. Coming back from a two-goal second-half deficit, Duke rallied behind Morrissey and Trimble to defeat the Terps for the first time since 2008.

Low Point: A messy 4-2 loss to rival North Carolina that extended Duke's losing streak to three games. The Blue Devils put together their best defensive performance of the season, but their offense couldn't capitalize. Duke's two-goal performance marked the lowest total for the program since 1997.

2013 Preview

#LMranks WD1 Preseason Countdown

No. 20 Princeton
No. 19 Boston College
No. 18 Stony Brook
No. 17 UMass
No. 16 Towson
No. 15 Cornell
No. 14 Georgetown
No. 13 Ohio State
No. 12 Penn
No. 11 Dartmouth
Monday: No. 10 Notre Dame
Tuesday: No. 9 Penn State
Wednesday: No. 8 Virginia
Thursday: No. 7
Friday: No. 6

More: Countdown schedule | MD1 | MD2 | WD2 | MD3 | WD3 | JuCo | MCLA | WCLA

Best Case: Trimble and fellow sophomore Kerrin Maurer step up, and the freshmen class led by Acton and Kelci Smesko has an immediate impact for the Blue Devil offense. Behind this young talent, Duke makes the NCAA semifinals for the second time in three years.

Worst Case: The vacancies in the midfield and the cage left by last year's senior class prove too difficult for this young squad to fill. Unable to replace the production of Wenger and Hamm, the inexperienced Blue Devils end their streak of NCAA quarterfinals appearances, bowing out in the first round.

Inside Scoop

Coach Kerstin Kimel's comments on...

A Kerrin Maurer (So.)
"You're fortunate at a place like Duke to coach some really great players, and Kerrin has tremendous game sense and instincts — can see things starting to happen before you've even thought about it, dreamt it in your head, which is a really special gift that you can't teach anybody. So, she last year was given a daunting task of playing behind the X and controlling the ball quite a lot for us as a freshman. And with that, we knew she was going to make a lot of mistakes.

"Kerrin was really hard on herself, and I mean really hard on herself despite the fact that she did quite a lot for our team. And so, this year, I've gotten her to the point where she can reflect back on last year and not think, 'Oh, I did terrible.' She can look back and realistically say, 'I did a lot as a freshman in a really important role for a team that went to the NCAA quarterfinals. So I think that she's matured a lot in the past year, and I think our goal for her is not to just be pigeonholed into being the kid who plays behind the cage. We want to do other things with her. She's got unbelievable hands, and she's a great shooter, but right now she's the kid on our team who can make things happen and see the game happening before things actually start happening on the field. So she's a pretty special player in that regard."

M Taylor Trimble (So.)
"Taylor has really worked hard. Last year, she had an ankle injury. That really limited her ability to get up and down the field well and defend for us. One of the things that we're wanting to do with her this year is that she wants to be more involved in the full-field play. That's something that we're hoping we can make happen. She's a super-gifted player off the ball. She can catch and shoot and get herself open as good as any other player on our team, so our goal for her is to [grow her] game — to not just be an off-ball player. 'Let's see if we can really work on our dodging so that you can make things happen with the ball in your stick.' Likewise, get better on the defensive end of the field. And then Taylor will be instrumental in our draw as well."

A Maddy Acton (Fr.)
"She's super. She's one of the finest athletes we have on our team from top to bottom. She's strong. She's fast. She's got a great stick. She's a great learner. She learned a lot this fall, and when I say a great learner, I mean she's able to listen to what you're saying and do her best to try to apply it. She's great at not really sweating her mistakes, kind of accepting the fact that as a young player, you're going to make a lot of mistakes, and it's going to make you better. We expect her to play a big role for us all over the field. She's been just a dream."

Rival Coaches Say

"They're really dynamic. Not only do they have contributors from last year's team, but they've got some really, really great freshmen that are in the lineup. Taylor Trimble did a great job for them last year, and they're returning Makenzie Hommel, the lefty attacker. She's just a great, great player. They are really dynamic. They move the ball extremely well. And Kelci Smesko looked really good this fall too."


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