Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/2/09
The third-ranked Duke women’s lacrosse team, buoyed by a host of Philadelphia players and a Philly coach, unofficially kicked off the 2009 season with a pair of scrimmages as part of the Fourth Annual Champion Challenge at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fl.
The Blue Devils, coached by Haverford High graduate Kerstin Kimel, feature sophomore midfielder and returning All-American Emma Hamm (Baldwin School) and starting defender Sara Giedgowd (Conestoga), reserves Christy Barnes (Radnor, junior midfielder) and Taylor Fleming (Merion Mercy, sophomore defender) and two highly-touted Philly freshmen, Amanda Jones (Germantown Academy) and Kim Wenger (Great Valley).
The Blue Devils were downed by the U.S. Elite and Developmental squads Sunday morning, falling 12-8 to the Developmental and 16-3 to the Elite. It was a unique opportunity for Duke to face some of its own, as two current Blue Devils – Caroline Cryer and Sarah Bullard – are members of the Elite team while Lindsay Gilbride is on the Developmental team. Two former Blue Devils – Megan Huether and Katie Chrest – are also on the Elite team and matched up against their former team.
The squads competed in the weekend-long U.S. Lacrosse event in preparation for the 2009 World Cup in Prague, Czech Republic this summer. The 18-member World Cup team is set to be announced sometime today, with the five Blue Devils in the mix to be selected, as well as Philly’s Nikki Lieb (Virginia, Radnor), Jessi Lieb (Penn State, radnor), Regina Oliver (Ohio State, Pottstown), Michi Ellers (Georgetown, Strath Haven), Whitney Douthett (Dartmouth, Newtown, Peddie School, NJ) and Michele DeJuliis (Penn State, Ultimate Goal Lacrosse Owner).
“I’m grateful that we had the opportunity to play against such quality competition so early on in the preseason,” said Kimel. “Playing these teams is a good measuring stick in terms of where we are right now, but we learned what we need to work on.”
Kimel was pleased with the Blue Devil defense, as they were forced to play a large portion of each game in the defensive end and came up with several stops against some of the best players in the nation.
“We were able to sustain our intensity in that area, which was good to see,” she said. “I’m somewhat disappointed in our transition game and I think we turned the ball over entirely too much for our group. The goal of the weekend was to get away, get out of Durham, relax, and have a chance to play great competition, so we were able to accomplish all of that and get a real sense of where we are right now.”
In Duke’s first game of the day against the Developmental squad, Duke keeper Kim Imbesi came up with nine big saves for the Blue Devils. Megan Del Monte and Morgan Miller each scored a pair for Duke, while Carolyn Davis, Hamm, Jones, Jess Adam, and Christie Kaestner tallied one apiece in the effort. Del Monte added a pair of assists.
In the Elite match-up, the Blue Devils hung tough and were only down 3-0 at the half before the U.S. squad unleashed a big second-half to secure the 16-3 win over Duke.
Cryer had a big day against her Blue Devil teammates – notching four goals and an assist for her second-straight five-point game in the tournament.
Duke was tabbed third in the preseason Lacrosse Magazine poll released back in December, as the Blue Devils return from a campaign in which they went 13-8 (3-2 ACC) and advanced to their fourth straight Final Four and 11th overall trip to the postseason.
Duke continues exhibition play with a home scrimmage Friday at 6 p.m. at Koskinen Stadium, followed by the South of the Border tournament at the University of North Carolina on Sun., Feb. 8. The Blue Devils open the regular season with a weekend road swing to Denver, Colo., where they face the University of Denver on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. and California on Feb. 15 at 2 p.m., also played in Denver.