Elon Phoenix Women’s Lacrosse Closes Out Road Swing at Duke, Vanderbilt

ELON, N.C. – For the first time in program history, the Elon women’s lacrosse team is 3-0 to start the season. The Phoenix continues a three-game road swing when it travels to No. 10 Duke on Thursday, Feb. 25, to take on the Blue Devils at 4 p.m. in Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C., before a trip to Nashville, Tenn., for a game against Vanderbilt on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 1 p.m. at the Vanderbilt Lacrosse Complex.

Last Time Out

Trailing most of the game, the Elon rallied to claim a 5-4 win in its first road game of the season at Coastal Carolina on Feb. 19 at Brooks Stadium. The victory marked the third straight in as many years for the Phoenix over the Chanticleers. After a save at the other end by Rachel Ramirez, Elon cleared the ball and got it to Sloane Kessler who notched her second score of the game to even the score at four-all with 7:36 on the clock. Only 64 seconds later, Kessler rebounded after a free-position shot was saved to net her 10th of the season and give the Phoenix its first lead of the game, 5-4, at the 6:32 mark. Kessler netted three scores for the maroon and gold, including the final two to tie the game and take the eventual win. Abby Godfrey posted two goals off four shots and picked up one ground ball and had a caused turnover, while Kelsey Dupere tallied the lone assist of the game for Elon.

The Opposition

The Blue Devils are 2-2 so far this season, falling 11-5 in its last game against Southern California in Costa Mesa, Calif., last weekend. Duke is currently ranked 10th nationally after reaching the NCAA semifinal for the seventh time last season. Kyra Harney has netted 11 goals (seventh nationally) and tallied seven assists (sixth nationally) this year for a team-high 18 points (second nationally) followed by 10 goals and five assists for 15 points (seventh nationally) from Kelci Smesko. Goalie Kelsey Duryea has notched 17 ground balls and 39 saves, which ranks fourth in the NCAA, and owns a 54.2 save percentage.

The Commodores are 2-1 on the season after its first loss of the season on Tuesday in the form of a 15-5 setback against Louisville. Vandy was picked to finish fourth in the BIG EAST this year by the league’s head coaches after a 7-9 record in 2015, while three Commodores – Jill Doherty, Alexa Kunowsky and Mallory Schonk – were selected to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Kelly Chandler leads Vanderbilt with nine goals and 10 points this season, while goalie Callahan Kent has tallied 26 saves, which is 10th in the NCAA, for a 48.1 save percentage.

Elon vs. Duke

Thursday is the third all-time meeting between the Phoenix and the Blue Devils, playing each year of Elon’s program existence. The maroon and gold played its first ever game at Duke on Feb. 7, 2014, with the sixth-ranked Devils taking a 25-4 win. One year later on Feb. 7, 2015, No. 8 Duke visited Rhodes Stadium, claiming a 17-8 victory to improve to 2-0 in the series.

Elon vs. Vanderbilt

Sunday marks the first meeting between the Phoenix and the Commodores on the lacrosse field.

Conference/Natioanl Rankings

Just a few games into the season, the Phoenix leads the Colonial Athletic Association in ground balls (20.0/game), shots (31.0/game) and shots on goal (23.67/game), while also ranking 17th in the NCAA in ground balls. Sloane Kessler ranks 13th nationally with her 10 goals this year and leads the league in scoring with 3.33 goals per game, while Stephanie Asher ranks fourth with her 2.67 goals/game. Asher and Kessler rank first and second, respectively, in shots per game with 8.67 and 6.67, while Rachel Ramirez is third in saves (5.33/game) and ground balls (3.0/game).

Blue Devil Connection

There will be two people in maroon and gold on the Phoenix sideline Thursday with a connection to visiting Duke. Elon head coach Josh Hexter served as an assistant and associate head coach for the Blue Devils for eight seasons prior to accepting the Elon position in 2012. Phoenix volunteer assistant coach Taylor Virden is a 2014 graduate of Duke University and was a standout during her lacrosse career with the Blue Devils.

Next Up

After closing out the road trip this weekend, the Phoenix returns home to Rudd Field to host Albany on Friday, March 4. Opening draw is scheduled for 6 p.m.