February 28, 2016
Duke senior Kelci Smesko led the attack with a team-high five points on three goals and two assists. (Lance King)
Duke senior Kelci Smesko led the attack with a team-high five points on three goals and two assists. (Lance King)

Duke Rebounds, Doubles Up Penn in Win

from press release | TwitterBox Score

DURHAM, N.C. – No. 15 Duke rebounded from two straight losses against USC and Elon to collect a 12-6 victory over No. 16 Penn on Sunday at Koskinen Stadium. The Blue Devils put together a complete game, featuring another solid defensive performance as well as six different goal scorers, to move to 3-3 on the year.

Leading 7-6 early in the second half, Duke rounded out the contest on a 5-0 run to secure the squad's first win over a ranked opponent this spring.

Seniors Maddy Acton and Kelci Smesko paced the attack with a pair of hat tricks, while sophomore Kyra Harney and junior Hayley Shaffer also contributed multiple-goal games. Freshman Olivia Jenner and junior Maura Schwitter shined on the draw, helping the Blue Devils take the category by a 14-6 margin.

"We came out with a lot more energy and focus today," said coach Kerstin Kimel. "Elon did a really good job of taking us out of our game [Thursday]. But I also think it was a game and a day where we did not prepare ourselves to really come out and compete at the highest level the way you need to against a really quality opponent. That's a tough lesson to learn, but our kids learned it. We recognize that too many mental mistakes really hurt us Thursday and we saw less of those today."

The teams swapped scores to start the contest before Duke took off on a 5-1 burst midway through the first period. Smesko netted two of her tallies in that span and also assisted freshman Ellie Majure on her first career goal. The Blue Devils controlled possession for much of the opening half behind a 9-3 advantage at the draw.

Penn's Iris Williamson notched the second of her four scores on the day with six minutes remaining before halftime. However, Duke responded just before the break, as Harney came up with a caused turnover on a Penn clear attempt and Acton ran the ball back and beat the goalkeeper one-on-one with one second left. That brought the score to 7-4 at the intermission.

Williamson added two more goals early in the second half to narrow it to a one-goal game. Duke goalkeeper Kelsey Duryea and the Blue Devil defense were solid the rest of the way, with Duryea making four of her six saves in the final period. The strong defensive play fueled the 5-0 run over the final 11 minutes.

"Our team is the type that we give good energy to the other side," Acton said. "When the defense makes a great stand, that gives us energy to go forward and execute on attack. And when we score great goals, defense is behind us cheering us on. That's something that's really crucial to our team chemistry this year."

Smesko's two assists gave her a game-high five points while Jenner corralled seven draws and Schwitter four. Harney and Duryea registered two caused turnovers each in the win.

Williamson's four goals led the Quakers in the loss, with Nina Corcoran and Emily Rogers-Healion supplying one each. Britt Brown and Courtney Rushford shared time in the net for Penn, with Brown recording nine saves.

For the contest, Duke outshot the Quakers 26-18. Both teams finished with 17 ground balls and 11 turnovers, while Penn went 1-for-4 on free position shots to a 3-for-5 performance by the Blue Devils.

"We transitioned better today from our man-to-man sets to our zone and were able to make some adjustments on the fly," Kimel said. "More importantly, today was just a big step forward for us. We knew, being a young team, it was not necessarily going to be easy all the time and every day. So for us, it's more that today was a big step forward ... We practiced really well yesterday, we played really hard today and I'm very proud of this group."

Duke opens its ACC slate next weekend, traveling to Virginia Tech Saturday for a 1 p.m. matchup on ESPN3.

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