#LMRanks: No. 6 Duke Blue Devils (WD1)
|After an even 35 goal, 35 assist season a year ago, Kerrin Maurer looked healthy in the fall and could be a big part of the Blue Devils' success. (John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com)|
2013 Record: 14-6 (2-5 ACC)
Coach: Kerstin Kimel (19th year)
Record at Duke: 230-110
Draw Control: 4
A Kerrin Maurer (Jr.)
The quarterback of Duke's offense for the past two seasons, Maurer injured her leg and pelvis in a car accident during basketball season of her senior year at St. Anthony's (N.Y.) High. And, while she's started in Durham since Day 1, it's been a long recovery. This fall Maurer, who ranked 20th in the country in assists last year, has looked healthier than ever.
A Isabelle Montagne, (Fr.)
The Chicago-area standout was a two-time All-American at Lake Forest (Ill.) and has been on the Blue Devil's radar for years thanks to her participation in local camps. She impressed immediately this fall and should quickly carve out a role in Duke's defense.
2009 - NCAA Quarterfinals
2010 - Quarterfinals
2011 - Semifinals
2012 - Quarterfinals
2013 - Quarterfinals
Plenty of starting spots remain up for grabs in Duke's lineup and the Blue Devils are espousing a "33 strong" philosophy this season. Any one of its 10 freshmen could end up making an impact. Local girl Molly O'Brien, who played collegiately at UConn, joins the Blue Devil staff as a volunteer assistant coach after spending time as a production assistant at ESPN.
As in the number of NCAA semifinalists on Duke's schedule this year. In addition to Syracuse, UNC and Maryland during the ACC slate, the Blue Devils will host Northwestern at the end of February in the final tune-up before conference play begins.
Opposing coaches thoughts on Duke
"Strong roster with lots of depth coming into 2014. Blue Devils need to rise to the challenge of a tough ACC conference."
"Always part of the conversation, and always part of the top 10. They are athletic and have a good goalie – always a winning combo. Taylor Trimble is a superstar."
"With close losses to Virginia and Maryland last season, the Blue Devils were very close to making it to the final four. They have very strong veterans returning to the team that should make a huge impact."
"Duke will be a contender as usual throughout the post season. Losing to Maryland in the quarterfinal will motivate them to try to get further this year."
"Talented on the draw and tough in the cage."
"One of the nation's best recruiting powerhouses every year. Will they mature and take the next step? Maybe."
"Another team with a roster stacked of top recruits. Haven't been to a final four in a while. I'd like them to being more creative on attack and pressure more on defense."
"Disciplined and organized with key players in key spots."
"They've got really strong individual players. I'm interested to see if they can put it together when it matters."
"A ton of talent."
"I would expect them to be very competitive again. They are solid on the attacking end with Kerrin Maurer coming back. She had a solid year last year. Duke always comes in and plays very smart lacrosse. They are well-coached, and you know they are not going to make a lot of mistakes and beat themselves. You have to play a solid game to beat them."
"They're very organized, very well disciplined, very well coached. They have Taylor Trimble back. Duke's defense returns a couple of their starters. Their defense is going to be very strong for them this season. Gabby Moise and Virden and their goalie is outstanding and will be the anchor on the defensive end."
In a Nutshell: Duke reached the NCAA quarterfinals for the ninth consecutive season, where it was bounced by Maryland, 14-9. The Blue Devils finished the season ranked No. 6 and played eight Top 20 teams, defeating five of them.
High Point: After a quarterfinal exit in the ACC tournament, Duke was saddled with one of the NCAA tournament's most unfavorable draws - a first round date with Princeton. Maddy Acton delivered the game-winner in double overtime as the Blue Devils edged the Tigers, 10-9, in a thriller to advance to the second round, where they defeated Navy.
Low Point: Duke fell to Virginia, 10-7, in the ACC quarterfinals. It was the third-lowest scoring output of the season for the Blue Devils who, just a month earlier, had defeated the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, 10-7. It was also the fourth loss in six games after Duke opened the season at 9-1.
Best Case: Maurer and Trimble continue the maturation process and give the Blue Devils one of the country's top offensive tandems. A solid fall helps Duryea become even better in year two, the ACC proves the perfect proving ground for the big dance and the NCAA Championship moves down Tobacco Road to Durham.
Worst Case: Injures strike, the Blue Devils get lost in the shuffle in the more-stacked-than-ever ACC and make an early playoff exit again. Northwestern wins the NCAA title, knocking off a different ACC team in the final three rounds.
Self-Examination— Kimel on...
Kerrin Maurer: We didn't necessarily recruit Kerrin to run our offense right away, but she became the quarterback of our offense. I've just been so impressed with how hard she's worked on all aspects of her game. She's taken her fitness and her game to a whole new level.
Taylor Trimble: She's had a lot of responsibility in our offense since her freshmen year. We've asked a lot from her. She's someone we'll count on on the draw. She's really evolving her game.
Kelsey Duryea: Our goal No. 1 is to keep her healthy. She started every game and had a great freshmen year, but she didn't get to have a fall ball last year because she was still recovering from a high school injury. For her, I think, just to have a fall to train will mean so much.