GREENVILLE, N.C.- A gap in possession was too much for the ECU lacrosse team to overcome as the Pirates fell to No. 8 Duke 16-4 on Sunday afternoon.
ECU drops to 2-3 on the season and suffers its first home loss in three games while Duke improves to 4-1.
In the early going, the Pirates were right in the game with the Blue Devils. Payton Barr got draw controls on two of the first three draws and ECU turned both of those into goals. After Barr collected the opening draw, Ally Stanton slammed a goal home after less than a minute of play to give ECU a 1-0 lead. Duke came back and scored just over a minute later when Caroline DeBellis fed Catherine Cordrey. But Barr once again gave ECU the ball and Megan Pallozzi earned a free-position shot, which she promptly buried to make it 2-1.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, the offense could not get much going for the rest of the half, with the Pirates turning it over 14 times in the opening 30 minutes. The ECU defense helped keep the game within reach, as the Pirates allowed just three more Blue Devil goals and forced eight Duke turnovers themselves. By the time the half came to an end, ECU trailed just 5-2.
After it was 4-4 in draw controls in the first half, Duke began to assert its dominance in the draw circle. The Blue Devils won the first seven draw controls of the second half, turning most of those into goals. Duke rattled off a 7-0 run before Barr got a hold of a draw control and then raced in for a solo goal. That made it 12-3 with 20:51 remaining.
After more than 10 scoreless minutes, Duke turned an ECU turnover into a goal to push the lead back to 10. ECU answered one more time, as Frances Kimel scored off a feed from Brittany Borchers. It is the second straight year that Kimel has scored against the Blue Devils who are coached by her mother, Kerstin Kimel.
Kimel’s goal was the final tally for the Pirates with Duke adding a trio of goals in the final six minutes to make the final score 16-4.
Duke had a 15-7 advantage in draw controls and forced 23 ECU turnovers to just 14 for the Blue Devils. ECU did have the edge in saves, as Ashley Vernon made nine stops for the Pirates while Sophia LeRose made four for Duke.
Barr had four draw controls for ECU. CeCe Bartley and Jordyn Cox each caused a pair of Duke turnovers while Liz Blumthal scooped up three ground balls.
ECU will close out the non-conference portion of the schedule next Saturday when the Pirates host Jacksonville. That game will get started at 12 noon and will be broadcast on ECUPirates.com.