2022 NCAA Lacrosse Preview: No. 8 Duke (Women)

PHOTO BY PEYTON WILLIAMS

Catriona Barry is expected to have a larger role on offense this spring.


The 2022 college lacrosse season is nearly upon us. As is our annual tradition, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USALaxMagazine.com each weekday this month for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.

NO. 8 DUKE

2021 Record: 11-8 (4-6 ACC)
Final Ranking (2021): No. 8
Coach: Kerstin Kimel (27th season)

Duke is ready to keep the good times rolling.

The 2021 season was chaotic for nearly every team in the country, but to hear it from coach Kerstin Kimel, the Blue Devils used their normal year, relative to others, as an advantage. The target for 2022 is to keep that momentum going.

“Last year, honestly I thought it was great,” Kimel said. “That was not the case for a lot of other teams. We played uninterrupted and with success. When I think about last year, I have lots of positive feelings about how it went and how it finished.”

Duke, the No. 7 seed, returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2016 and advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2015. For Kimel and company, which includes 16 players with four or more years of experience and a heralded first-year class, advancing to championship weekend is the minimum goal.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Kimel said. “Make no mistake, we always talk about [making the semifinals and winning a championship], that’s our goal. I think our kids are mature enough to understand it’s a process and it’s a different team than last year. … Even though we feel good, we’re not satisfied. We need to do better and do more.”

In 2022, the formula will be much like last year. Win the draw, control possession, minimize mistakes, spread the field and load the net with goals. Junior Maddie Jenner is a crucial element for that with her height and control ability (187 draw wins in 2021). Finding ways make Jenner more accessible beyond the draw is among Kimel’s top priorities.

“She’s worked really hard the last two years where she’s a multi-dimensional threat with ball in stick and an off-ball threat,” Kimel said. “You’ll see from this fall she tried dodging and working around the crease, adding different layers to her game where she can help us in other ways than just the draw.”

NIKE/USAL PRESEASON TOP 20
TEAM PREVIEWS

1. Boston College

2. North Carolina

3. Syracuse

4. Northwestern

5. Stony Brook

6. Maryland

7. Notre Dame

8. Duke

9. Loyola

10. Florida

11. Virginia

12. James Madison

13. Princeton

14. Stanford

15. Denver

16. Rutgers

17. Drexel

18. Jacksonville

19. UConn

20. Penn

Finding the centerpiece of the offense to get the ball to one of the seven returning 20-plus goal scorers in the wake of Gabby Rosenzweig’s graduation is critical. While some candidates were nursing injuries in the fall, Kimel hinted at an answer.

“I think that’s going to be a question we have to answer in the preseason,” Kimel said of the quarterback position. “I think we can have [Catriona] Barry do it. She’s elevated her offensive game in the past year, even through the fall.”

Barry has played as a two-way midfielder in the past, appearing in all aspects of the box score with 27 goals, eight assists, 19 ground balls, 16 caused turnovers and 36 draw controls.

When you run down the roster, defenses are going to have to choose wisely on who they want to focus their attention. Katie Cronin (30 goals in 2021), Olivia Carner (30 goals), Katie DeSimone (25 goals), Carolina DeBellis (24 goals) and Abby Landry (21 goals) are a force before you even include the likes of senior Anna Callahan, third-year Eva Greco or first-year players like Kerry Nease and Mattie Shearer.

Where another question mark remains is in net. The starting goalkeeping slot is an open competition between experienced netminders Sophia LeRose and Chase Henriquez. LeRose is coming off bilateral shoulder surgeries and hasn’t played since the spring. Newcomer Kennedy Everson is a solid option, too.

“I think obviously given the year [LeRose] had, she’d get the nod,” Kimel said. “But she’ll be pushed by Chase Henriquez — and Kennedy did great this fall. We are going to play the kids who play the best.”

Depth is Duke’s friend. The defense is full of veterans such as Cubby Biscardi, Kay Conway, Katie Cosgrove and Natalie Kahn. Highly touted recruit Reilly Traynor provides additional cover as well.

“We return nearly everyone on defense and starting goalie,” Kimel added. “It’s exciting that we have that whole unit back.”






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TOP RETURNERS

Maddie Jenner, A, Jr.

A USA Lacrosse Preseason All-American, Jenner brought down an astounding 187 draws last year at a rate of 9.84 per game. Expect Jenner’s role to expand on offense with Duke adding depth in the draw control game.

Catriona Barry, M, Gr.

Barry’s talents make her valuable to the Blue Devils on offense and defense, as evidenced by 35 points, 36 draw controls, 19 ground balls and 16 caused turnovers in 2021.

Olivia Carner, M, Jr.

An all-around midfielder who will feature as a key cog for the Blue Devils after a breakout sophomore campaign, Carner does a bit of everything. She scores (30 goals in 2021), wreak havocs defensively (22 caused turnovers) and mops up when the ball’s on the ground (22 ground balls and 28 draw controls).

KEY ADDITION

Reilly Traynor, D, Fr.

One of Duke’s four Under Armour All-America game participants, Traynor brings the full package. Named a USA Lacrosse All-American and a member of the U16 USA Select team in 2019, Traynor will vie for a starting spot on defense.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATE

Catriona Barry, M/A, Gr.

Can she be a top returner and a breakout candidate? Absolutely.

A midfielder her first four years in Durham, Barry is set to focus on attack in her fifth year and expand her offensive role. Expect Barry to handle much off the setup that Gabby Rosenzweig did last year and rack up big points because of it.

“I think she’s been a very underrated player for us,” coach Kerstin Kimel said. “She was a great scorer and a great facilitator [in the fall], and it suits her personality. She’s the unquestioned leader of our team.”

ENEMY LINES

What rival coaches say about the Blue Devils:

“They return a ton of fifth-year players that have lots of experience, especially in the midfield. They’re so well prepared — they know exactly what they’re doing and can go very far this season.”

BEYOND THE BASICS
POWERED BY LACROSSE REFERENCE

68.4%

Yes, Duke was good on draws last year. But when you account for the strength of their opponents, they were really good. The 68.4 percent adjusted draw control win rate was good for No. 2 nationally. That helped the Blue Devils to a +5 possession advantage per game. With Maddie Jenner back, you’d expect that strength to rollover to 2022. — Zack Capozzi

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