GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – A hot-shooting night was not enough to overcome a massive disadvantage at the draw circle as the ECU women’s lacrosse team fell to No. 12 Duke 22-9 on Tuesday night inside Johnson Stadium.
“It’s disappointing that we lost of course, but I’m happy with the way we competed, especially in the first half,” said head coach Amanda Barnes Moore. “We knew at the draw circle, where they have two of the best players in the country, that was going to be tough to surmount. You can’t put the ball in the back of the net if you don’t have it. But all in all, I’m proud of the steps we took forward as a program in terms of our fight and focus. I’m looking forward to playing another ranked team on Saturday.”
ECU (5-9) falls to a ranked opponent for the second time this season, the other a loss at then-No. 3 North Carolina. Duke (9-5) snaps a two-game losing streak as well as beating ECU for the second straight season.
Coming into the game, ECU knew it faced an uphill battle at the draw circle as Duke was the top team in the NCAA in draw control percentage. In the first-half, ECU was able to mitigate that advantage by converting the majority of the possessions the Pirates did get.
The first draw of the game did go to the Pirates, but a quick turnover put the ball into Duke’s hands and the Blue Devils’ leading scorer, Charlotte North, took advantage by potting her first goal of the game. The ensuing draw control went to Duke and the Blue Devils scored again.
ECU finally got into the offensive zone when Duke turned the ball over. The Pirates wasted little time as Brittany Borchers found Emma Bowman, with the junior attacker scoring. ECU followed the goal with a defensive stop that included a save by goalkeeper Christina White and then Amy Jarvis causing a turnover. The score was tied when Borchers again played provider, this time setting up Ally Stanton.
Duke regained the lead by winning three straight draw controls and scoring on each possession. North scored the first two of those goals, giving her a hat trick before seven minutes had elapsed on the scoreboard.
The Pirates stopped the 3-0 run when Megan Tryniski won the ball at the circle and then Stanton scored off a free-position shot. ECU crept closer when Bowman ripped a free-position shot into the top corner of the goal, making the score 5-4.
The Blue Devils made a change in the cage, moving Jamie Lockwood into the goal, but Lockwood was not tested for a bit as Duke went on a 3-0 run without allowing ECU to possess the ball. The run came to an end when Nicole LeGar won a draw control and then the Borchers to Bowman connection led to another tally. A Duke turnover set up another ECU goal, with Borchers turning from provider to scorer upon burying a free-position shot.
Although Duke added another 4-0 run to make it 13-6 with 6:48 left in the first half, ECU clawed back with the final two goals of the first half. Bowman got her fourth goal of the opening stanza when she launched another free-position rocket. LeGar added another free-position goal with 47 seconds left to make the score 13-8 at the half.
The second half opened on a high note for ECU, with Megan Pallozzi getting a goal just over three minutes into the frame, but that was the final highlight of the day for ECU.
Duke held a dominant 9-2 edge in the draw circle in the second half and the Blue Devils turned those possessions into goals. Duke scored the game’s final nine goals, five of which involved North, as the sophomore had three goals and two assists. On the other side, after scoring on eight of their 11 shots in the first half, ECU put just one of its five shots on frame in the second.
Duke finished with a 25-7 edge in the circle and had a 16-9 advantage in ground balls. ECU went 6-of-9 on free position shots while Duke was 4-of-8.
Bowman led ECU with four goals while Borchers had three assists and one goal. White made seven stops in the cage for the Pirates. Amy Jarvis forced two turnovers while Sam Caputo scooped up a pair of ground balls.
North finished with seven goals and two assists for Duke. Olivia Jenner had three goals and two assists to go with eight draw controls while Maddie Jenner had 12 draw controls to lead Duke.
ECU will have another ranked matchup this weekend, this time against conference opponent Florida. The Pirates will head south to Gainesville, Fla., for an 11 a.m., game on Saturday morning.