The second installment of players to watch for #DUKEvsUSC outlines five Blue Devils expected to tear up turf at OCC’s Lebard Stadium in the inaugural Orange County Winter Invitational game on Feb. 20.
The numbers say Duke should beat USC. Last spring, in the NCAA tournament, Duke defeated the Trojans 17-9 and eventually reached the Final Four. Entering the 2016 season, Lacrosse Magazine has Duke ranked No. 12 and USC ranked No. 20 in its preseason Top 20.
Here are five Blue Devils players to watch in 2016:
KELSEY DURYEA, SENIOR, GOALIE
Duryea haunts the flashback dreams of lady Trojans who met her brick wall at the NCAA Tournament in 2015. For their information, her prowess improves steadily year after year. This Massachusetts-bred goalie won gold with the US U-19 women’s national team prior to Duke. She lived up to the hype in her freshman season, winning an IWLCA All-America second team award that had never been given to a freshman goalie before. Her debut that year was against Maryland, when she made eight stops splitting time with senior Kaitlin Gaiss.
Duryea started the next 15 games. She carried on with the momentum-building stoppage through her sophomore year. She ranked in the top 10 of her conference in save percentage (.433), goals-against average (9.89) and ground balls per game (2.53). Duryea’s sophomore season earned her a Tewaarton Award Watch List nod. Recognition for Duryea continued through her junior season last year, when she led Duke to a 16-5 record and was a Tewaarton Award nominee.
MADDIE CRUTCHFIELD, SOPHOMORE, MIDFIELD
Maddie “Clutchfield” made a strong impression as a freshman last season. Inside Lacrosse named her the “Fierce Freshman,” citing her four-time pre-Duke HS All-American status as evidence. Her rookie season is characterized by her ACC Defensive Player of the Week award (March 17) that recognized critical, tenacious turnover capability in a 10-8 win over Louisville. This summer Clutch Crutch was selected to the U.S. Women’s National team.
CLAIRE SCARRONE, SENIOR, DEFENSE
What Claire Scarrone was eating the summer after her freshman year at Duke, we don’t know… but after appearing in only three games her first season in 2013, this Blue Devil started every game as a sophomore, becoming a cornerstone presence on defense. In that breakout season, Scarrone’s defense ranked fifth in the ACC and pushed the team to the NCAA tournament. She was a loud defender in tournament games against Notre Dame and Maryland.
Last spring, the Duke defense ranked second in the ACC. Scarrone was a co-captain whose leadership also showed in her field-player leading stats for ground balls. She earned second-team All-ACC, IWLCA All-South Region Second Team, and NCAA All-Tournament Team. Scarrone still holds her captain role moving on to Spring 2016.
MADDY ACTON, SENIOR, ATTACK
Not often a starter last year, Maddy Acton should assume more offensive leadership after the graduation of several key attackers from last season. Her pre-Duke history is rich; she lettered four years in high school, won gold with the U-19 national team, and was a two-time Under Armour and US Lacrosse All American. She then brought consistency to Duke’s attack, racking up solid stats in goals, points and assists.
— US Lacrosse Magazine (@USLacrosseMag) April 24, 2015
KYRA HARNEY, SOPHOMORE, ATTACK
Kyra Harney started 18 of Duke’s 21 games as a freshman and was among Duke’s leaders in goals (31), assists (15) and points (46), earning a spot on the Inside Lacrosse All-Rookie Team. Against USC in the 2015 NCAA tournament, Harney scored a hat trick and had two assists.
“My style of lacrosse is very team-oriented,” she told Inside Lacrosse upon her commitment to Duke. “The biggest compliment that I have gotten is that I make everyone around me better. That is the ultimate compliment for me, because lacrosse is a team sport.”
— Duke Athletics (@DukeATHLETICS) June 12, 2015
Purchase your tickets for #DUKEvsUSC of the inaugural OC Winter Invitational here.
Michelle Mendoza is a graduate of El Toro High School and Chapman University, where she played NCAA D3 lacrosse. Follow her on Twitter @michelledm18.