Duke downs Dartmouth lacrosse

Women's lacrosse couldn't quite keep up with the Duke Blue Devils.

Although Dartmouth fell short of an upset victory against No. 6 Duke on Sunday in Durham, N.C., the Big Green had one of its best performances on the season. The Big Green lost an 18-14 shootout in Dartmouth’s season finale, after leading the Blue Devils 9-8 at the end of the first half.

It is likely that Dartmouth (9-7, 4-3 Ivxy) will not get a berth to the NCAA tournament, as a fourth-place finish in the Ivy League and the squad’s overall record is probably not enough to merit one of the eight at-large bids.

Duke (14-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) will almost certainly earn an at-large bid to the tournament. With their national ranking, the Blue Devils have a good chance at becoming one of the top eight seeds and will look to make a run deep into the postseason.

The game started out slowly, as the Blue Devils and the Big Green traded several goals in a defensive struggle where the offense for both teams was held in check.

Jen Pittman ’07 was the catalyst for the Big Green offense early on, as she had two goals in this early stage of the game. With just over five minutes left to go in the first half, the Big Green had a slender 5-4 lead.

The final minutes of the half saw an offensive explosion from both sides, including three goals scored in the final 30 seconds of the stanza.

It looked as if Duke would take an 8-7 lead into halftime after a goal from Carolyn Davis with 26 seconds left. But the Big Green struck twice after Davis’ goal, including a Katherine Chiusano ’09 tally with just a second remaining, to take a 9-8 lead into the half.

Co-captain Whitney Douthett ’07 was pleased with the way her team played in the first portion of the contest.

“Today’s game was actually one of our best this season, especially in the first half,” she said. “We came out in the beginning, really taking it to them and I don’t think they were expecting it.”

In the second half, the Blue Devils got their offense going led by six goals from Caroline Cryer, the ACC’s top scorer. The Blue Devils set the tone right away by scoring the first five goals in the second half to jump out to a 13-9 lead.

Goals by Sarah Szefi ’07 and Kristen Barry ’08 cut the deficit to two with just under 20 minutes left in the game, it was as close as the Big Green would get. Eliza Bennett ’10 added two goals in the waning minutes, but it was not enough to propel Dartmouth to victory.

Offensively, Chiusano led the Big Green with four goals, and Douthett added three assists. Douthett, the Big Green’s all-time assists leader, ended her Dartmouth career with a 55-game scoring streak.

On defense, Alex Huestis ’10, who has played well as of late, had three ground balls for the game. Co-captain Margo Duke ’07 and Michelle Shortsleeve ’07 came up with key stops, especially in the early stages of the game.

In goal, Julie Wadland ’10 was kept busy by the Duke offense that produced 33 shots. She made 15 saves on the day.

Despite the loss, the senior Duke was happy with the way she got to close out her Dartmouth career.

“The game was a great way to end my lacrosse career at Dartmouth,” she said. “Although we didn’t come out with a win, it felt like one. Our team has finally made the progress we have wanted to and it showed. Both the attack and defense played so well. We all had so much fun with each other while out there.”

The seniors, veterans of a national championship run in 2006, will certainly be missed. However, the program has a strong group of players returning next season, and the team should have a great shot at making a return to the NCAA tournament.

“I am really excited to see how the team grows over the next couple of years, because I think they have a great future ahead of them,” Douthett said.

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