The one thing Navy could always count on from its women's lacrosse team was a high-powered offense. On Sunday, that offense seemed to run out of gas.
After taking a 4-2 lead, the Mids (19-2) gave up seven unanswered goals. The story, however, was the Duke defense. The Blue Devils (14-5) constantly harassed Navy's offensive quartet of Jasmine DePompeo, Aimee Gennaro, Kathy Young and Jill Coughlin, and the frustration became evident. After Navy scored with 19:50 left in the first half, the Mids didn't score again until 8:47 left in the game — a drought of 41:03.
The Blue Devils, who are making their 16th consecutive appearance in the tournament, advance to next weekend's quarterfinals, where they will play top-seeded Maryland in College Park.
"We struggled offensively, but give credit to Duke," said Navy coach Cindy Timchal. "They took us out of our offensive rhythm, but it was just one of those days where we struggled offensively. It's not like we didn't have our looks. We just didn't convert."
The Midshipmen appeared to be in control when, at just over 10 minutes into the game, Coughlin (St. Mary's) scored on a free position to give Navy a 4-2 lead with 19:50 left in the half. The Blue Devils were up to the challenge, though. Duke got two goals from Taylor Trimble and one each from Molly Quirke and Kerrin Maurer to take a 6-4 lead into the locker room at the half.
The backbreaker came just before the break, when Duke held the ball for over two minutes before Trimble took a feed from Kelci Smesko from behind the cage and scored with 11.2 seconds remaining.
The second half looked much the same. Duke added another goal, again by Trimble with an assist from Smesko, just 1:43 into the period to make the lead, 7-4. When Navy did manage to get shots, Duke goalie Kelsey Duryea made some point-blank saves to stifle the Mids.
"Playing the schedule we play, we manage to see a lot of offensive styles," said Blue Devils coach Kerstin Kimel. "We made some small adjustment after giving up some goals early, and that took [the Midshipmen] out of what they wanted to do. They got some shots from eight-to-10 meters out, but we really made them work for those, I thought."
For Navy, the loss ends the best season in school history. The Mids won 19 games, went undefeated in the Patriot League and won a playoff game (against Monmouth last Friday). Timchal says she is proud of her team and its effort.
"I'm so proud of them," Timchal said. "This team made history, and it's sad to lose. Still, even though today wasn't our day, I wouldn't want to be with any other team."
Gennaro, a junior, was even more philosophical about the loss as she looked toward the future.
"What hurts the most is we put in all of that hard work and effort, and it all ended today," Gennaro said. "We hate to lose the seniors we are losing, but the preseason starts now for us."