Drew White | Staff Writer
April 25, 2019
The Duquesne Dukes women’s lacrosse team has clinched a postseason berth for the first time since 2016. After a 9-7 season, including a 4-5 mark in Atlantic 10 play, the Dukes will travel to Fairfax, Va. to take on the Richmond Spiders in the first round of the A-10 Championships on Thursday afternoon.
A 19-11 victory over La Salle in the conference finale on Saturday secured the spot for the Dukes in what has turned into a great turn-around season under first-year head coach Corrine Desrosiers.
After a 4-12 season last year and a 2-15 record the year prior, the Dukes were picked to finish last in the Atlantic 10, but to the surprise of most outside of the program, the Dukes surpassed their preseason projections to lock up the sixth and final spot in the tournament, hosted by George Mason.
After having their backs against the wall with a 1-5 conference record, the Dukes turned it on, winning their last three conference games to clinch their postseason spot.
The first year under Desrosiers has been an impressive one and has seen the emergence of a few different players, as well as the development of others.
Junior Rilee Bradshaw has perhaps been one of the main reasons for the turn-around. The Maryland native, after recording just 12 goals in her sophomore season, has netted a career-high 54 goals, good for second in the conference.
Sydney Reed, who started all 16 games as a freshman last year, has cemented herself as one of the best defenders in not only the conference — where she was recently named all-conference first team — but also in the nation. Reed, a New York native, ranks sixth in the nation in caused turnovers with 2.56 per game.
Another Duke received a first team all-conference selection in Maddie Hart. Hart was fantastic in the midfield for the Dukes, ranking second on the team in goals with 44. The junior also finished first in the conference in draw controls, second in caused turnovers with 2.5 per game, narrowly trailing Reed and also putting her seventh in the country, and third in the A-10 in ground balls. Her 3.44 ground balls per game put her fifth in the country in that category, as well.
Much of the Dukes’ success this year has stemmed from a change in coaching as previously mentioned. While the Dukes preached patience offensively last season, this year’s squad has shot the ball quickly into possessions and has also shot the ball often. The Dukes rank sixth in the nation in scoring offense with 16.38 goals per game, while also generating over 40 shots per game, which paces the country as a whole.
All of that is part of Desrosiers’ coaching philosophy. “We want to get our feet under us, we want to get a shot off in 11 seconds or less, we are looking to get on their hands on defense and apply a lot of pressure out there,” said Desrosiers after a 17-2 victory over St. Francis earlier this season.
The defensive pressure is also evident in every game as the Dukes rank second in the nation in caused turnovers per game with nearly 17, trailing only Liberty University.
Now, the Dukes will battle the Richmond Spiders with the winner taking on the host in George Mason. Earlier this season, the Dukes lost to the Spiders, who are the defending champions, 18-14.