Feb. 22, 2014
DURHAM, N.C. -- In a game in which neither team led by more than a goal until nearly two-thirds of the way through, No. 4 Northwestern broke out for a 4-0 run midway through the second half and held on for a 12-11 road win over No. 5 Duke Saturday at Koskinen Stadium in Durham.
The win was the second one-goal win over top-10 ranked ACC opponents to open the season for NU, which also downed No. 8 Virginia, 13-12, on Feb. 9. Northwestern has now defeated Duke in 11 straight meetings dating to the 2006 campaign.
Sophomore midfielder Kaleigh Craig led Northwestern with a career-best four goals, surpassing her previous career-high of two set in the season-opener vs. Virginia. Senior Alyssa Leonard corralled seven first-half draw controls and finished with 13 on the game, two shy of her career-best and NCAA record-tying 15 set last year at USC. Leonard, who also scored two goals on the day, passed her former assistant coach Hillary Fratzke (Towson, 2006-10) for third on the NCAA career draw controls record list and now has 329.
Senior Kat DeRonda also chipped in a hat trick to aid the Wildcats attack.
Duke scored the game's first goal only 18 seconds after the opening whistle and Northwestern got on the board shortly after as Craig wrapped the crease and bounced home NU's first shot attempt of the day.
The 'Cats took their first lead at 3-2 as sophomore Nancy Dunbar had a role in back-to-back Northwestern goals, first on a feed to Blake McHugh and then on a solo drive from the left wing. After the Blue Devils tied it on a man-up opportunity, Craig broke free in front of the cage for her second of the day to restore a Northwestern lead.
Craig then had what would have been her third goal taken off the board on an ensuing stick check, and Duke pulled level at four on another man-up chance midway through the first half.
Leonard coupled her dominance in the draw circle with a goal at the 9:44 mark when she beat her defender behind the cage and came around to slip one past Duke goalkeeper Kelsey Duryea, Leonard's third goal of the season. Duke, however, would end the half on a 3-1 run to regain an advantage and enter intermission with a 7-6 lead.
Northwestern needed only 23 seconds to pull level in the second half thanks to an unassisted tally by senior Kate Macdonald, but the Blue Devils quickly responded to move in front, 8-7. Duke's Katie Trees then scored at the 21:49 mark of the second half to set the score at 9-7 Blue Devils, the first two-goal lead for either team on the afternoon.
The Wildcats had an answer, however, pulling within one when Kara Mupo fell to her knees while driving but still managed to feed Leonard for a goal. Craig followed that up with an 8-meter score and, with NU owning possession off the draw circle, DeRonda netted back-to-back unassisted tallies to build a two-goal Wildcats lead.
After a Duke goal by Maddy Acton, Craig came up with her fourth of the day and what proved to be the game-winner with 8:14 remaining on another unassisted effort.
Duke managed to win two straight draw controls and score one final time down the stretch, but fell victim to a costly turnover at their offensive restraining line with 6:13 to play. Following a Northwestern timeout, the Wildcats were able to possess the ball for the duration of the game, with Macdonald recovering a key ground ball after a shot by Craig rang off the Duke goalpost.
Goalkeeper Bridget Bianco recorded four saves, including a key point-blank save on a potential game-tying shot late in the contest.
The game was an even one statistically, with NU outshooting Duke by a slim 23-17 margin and also winning 16 ground balls to Duke's 15.
Next up for the Wildcats is their first-ever meeting with new regional opponent Marquette at 4 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 25). Because of expected icy conditions and cold temperatures, the game has been relocated from Lakeside Field in Evanston to the indoor Lake Barrington Field House. Tickets to the game will be available at the entrance to the Lake Barrington Field House at a cost of $7 for adults and $4 for youths and senior citizens.
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