The 20-goal defeat is Elon’s largest since the team lost by 19 against the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2015. Despite the lopsided result against Duke, the eighth-ranked team in the country, head coach Josh Hexter said the team could learn a lot from playing such a strong opponent.
“It’s always good to play the best competition,” Hexter said. “While the scoreboard is certainly not in our favor, I was really proud of our girls for the effort they gave.”
Duke scored nine goals in the first quarter to take a 9-2 lead. Senior midfielder Gillian Curran and senior attacker Cate Mackel scored early in the quarter, but Elon did not see the net again until the second quarter.
When Duke took a 14-4 lead with 5:52 remaining in the second quarter, the running clock rule went into effect. This is when a team takes a ten goal lead, the officials no longer stop the clock after goals. Duke added three more goals in the second to take a 17-4 halftime lead.
Senior attacker Bella Feldmann scored on Elon’s first possession of the third quarter, but it would be Elon’s final goal. Duke put in three more goals in the third quarter and five in the fourth quarter securing the win.
“They’re fast, they’re very polished,” Hexter said. “Every kid they have out there is unbelievably fast, athletic and they play well together. So, there was really no one threat, you had seven threats at one time.”
Duke finished the game with a 24-7 advantage in draw controls, resulting in Maddie Jenner's career-high, 19. Hexter said Duke’s domination on draws prevented Elon from getting any momentum on offense.
“The way they could play at the draw circle made it really hard for our kids,” Hexter said. “We didn’t get a lot of touches.”
Elon will get 12 days off before its next game against Vanderbilt University on Feb. 25 at Rudd Field. Hexter said the team will unpack this loss and look to identify areas that call for improvement before the next game.
“We need to get better at applying what we’re learning,” Hexter said. “I have a lot of belief in this group. They are a strong, mentally tough group. I think we’ll be fine.”