February 16, 2011

NCAA Preview: No. 4 Duke

by Powell Latimer | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

The February issue of Lacrosse Magazine features an extensive NCAA lacrosse preview, from Division I through Division III, plus in-depth features on the top-ranked Syracuse men and the snake-bitten Cal women. Lacrosse Magazine Online (laxmagazine.com) examines the key players, strengths, weaknesses, best- and worst-case scenarios, sleepers, what's new, what's not and rival coaches' takes on each of the top 10-ranked teams in Division I men's and women's lacrosse.

MEN: 10 COR | 9 HOF | 8 DUKE | 7 UND | 6 PTON | 5 MD | 4 SB | 3 UNC | 2 UVA | 1 CUSE
WOMEN: 10 UND | 9 JMU | 8 PENN | 7 UVA | 6 GTOWN | 5 CUSE | 4 DUKE | 3 UNC | 2 NW | 1 MD

NO. 4 DUKE


Syracuse boasts the nation's top goalie in Liz Hogan. She and former Big East Defensive Player of the Year Lindsay Rogers (missed most of 2010 with torn ACL) will lead a young Orange defense.


Head Coach: Kerstin Kimel
Conference: ACC
2010 Records: 14-6, 2-3
2011 Opener: Defeated Ohio State, 21-9 | Schedule

KEY PLAYERS

A Christie Kaestner (Sr.)
Versatile attacker was Duke's leading point producer last year, including 39 assists.

M Sarah Bullard (Sr.)
Scored 48 goals to lead Duke last year, also a solid defender in the midfield.

M Virginia Crotty (Sr.)
"Her leadership is huge," Kimel said. Moving into an expanded role this year after 18 goals in 2010.

G Mollie Makler (Jr.) and G Kaitlyn Gaiss (So.)
Duke needs one of the tandem to emerge as a solid option in goal to allow Kimel's aggressive defense to play the way it wants to. (Mackler started and played all but six minutes of Duke's opener.)

STRENGTHS

• Veteran attack can light up scoreboards
• Injuries last year left plenty of depth at all positions

WEAKNESSES

• Goalie position still up in the air
• Lack of established draw-control specialist leaves Duke open to runs.

BEST CASE

Duke's defense solidifies and the offense continues to score in bunches as the Blue Devils surpass UNC as the second-best team in the ACC, challenge Maryland and make a deep NCAA run.

WORST CASE

Goalie situation remains unsolved, the defense has to play conservative, and Blue Devils remain mired behind Maryland and the Tar Heels and take an early exit from the NCAA tournament because of another high seed.

SLEEPER

M Maddie Salamone (R-Fr.)
A highly-touted recruit who redshirted last year, Salamone is a player who can control the midfield and win the draw for Duke, something the Blue Devils struggled with last year.

RIVAL COACH'S TAKE

"They were bitten by the injury bug a little bit last year, so they'll have some players back off that and hungry."

"Duke is always consistent and steady and always a team that gets better. They're well-coached, and they have a bunch of players with ACL tears coming back who will have their turn at stealing the show."

"Talented team, skilled players that are very disciplined on the offensive end. If they can get their defense in order, they will be a formidable opponent."

"The Blue Devils are going to strike fear in the eyes of every defense they'll face this year."

WHAT'S NEW?

Instead of a banged-up roster and a defense having to play conservative, Duke returns a pair of goalies and hopes to set it's pressing, trapping D loose.

WHAT'S NOT?

Christie Kaestner returns as the leading scorer and focal point of the offense for Duke.

0-5

Duke's record last season against teams ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation.


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