No. 16 Elon, No. 20 Duke Set for Nonconference WLAX Showdown at Rudd Field

ELON, N.C. – Set to contest its final nonconference game of the regular season, No. 16 Elon University women’s lacrosse will welcome No. 20 Duke to Rudd Field on Wednesday, March 29, for a 6 p.m. game against the Blue Devils. The action will air on Phoenix All-Access.

Stephanie Asher tied her career high with six goals against Davidson on Sunday, March 26, in a 15-7 win over the Wildcats. It marks the third six-goal game of her career and fifth in program history. She also added two assists for eight points on the day, which tied her eight-point performance against Longwood last season as the second-most in a game in team history.

On the day, Elon outshot Davidson 37-15 and converted all 19 of its clear attempts. Abby Godfrey also had a stellar day on the defensive end with three ground balls while causing four turnovers.

Elon and Duke have met three times to date with the Blue Devils owning a 2-1 advantage in the series. Last time the two sides met, Elon earned its first win over a nationally ranked team on Feb. 25, 2016, when it defeated No. 10 Duke in Durham. Shelby Scanlin scored the game-winning goal with six seconds to play on a man-up advantage to clinch the win. The Phoenix held Duke scoreless over the final 11 minutes after Duke grabbed a 6-5 lead with 11:44 to go.

At 5-5 on the season, Duke is paced by Maddie Crutchfield’s 19 goals while Kyra Harney leads the team with 30 points thanks to 17 goals and 13 assists. Catherine Cordrey is also tied with Harney for second on the team in goals with 17. Duke’s top six scores have all reached double-digit goal totals on the season and have combined for 78.8 percent of the team’s goals (89 of 113). The two sides have battled three common opponents to date. Elon has defeated both Virginia and Virginia Tech while the Blue Devils lost 11-6 to the Hokies and 18-5 last time out to UVA. Elon dropped a 16-7 home game to Notre Dame while the Blue Devils fell 12-11 to the Fighting Irish.

Before coming to Elon to start the program, head coach Josh Hexter was at Duke for eight seasons. He served as an assistant coach each of the first five years before being named the associate head coach for the final three years.

On March 16, Stephanie Asher and Rachel Ramirez were added to the Tewaaraton Trophy Watch List. The two players represent the first Elon athletes to be named to the watch list for the sport’s highest honor. Asher’s 36 goals this season leads the CAA and is ninth in the country with her 3.6 goals per game No. 8 in the nation. Ramirez leads the CAA in saves, save percentage and saves per game and is second in goals against average. On the national scene, her 9.06 GAA is 16th in the nation and her 0.488 save percentage is good for No. 19 in the country.

Stephanie Asher became the program’s first player to reach the 100-career goal mark when she scored in the second half against No. 9 Notre Dame back on Feb. 23. She scored at least five goals in a game on four occasions with her season high coming March 26 with six goals against Davidson.

Looking to follow in Asher’s footsteps, Sloane Kessler is closing in on 100 goals in her career. The senior from Owings Mills, Md., has notched 83 goals in her career to go with her 79 assists for a program-leading 162 points. This season alone, Kessler has scored 17 goals to go with a team-high 16 assists.

Elon checked in this week at No. 16 in the Cascade/Inside Lacrosse Media poll, falling back two spots from its No. 14 ranking each of the previous two weeks. In the IWLCA Coaches poll, the Phoenix is No. 18 in the country, which is two spots up from its No. 20 ranking last week.

With the Feb. 11 win over No. 13 Virginia and the March 1 victory over No. 19 Virginia Tech, Elon has now defeated three nationally ranked teams in each of the last two seasons. In 2016, the Phoenix went on the road to No. 10 Duke and won 7-6 in Durham, N.C. Elon owns an all-time record of 3-8 against ACC opponents. Overall against ranked teams, Elon is 3-10 in 13 games to date.

Stephanie Asher has earned three CAA Player of the Week honors already this season. Each has come on the heels of standout performances against Campbell in the season opener (five goals), at No. 19 Virginia Tech on March 1 (five goals) and against Davidson on March 26 (six goals, eight points). Asher has now won the award four times in her career.

On Feb. 21, Alexis Zadjura took CAA Defensive Player of the Week after leading Elon’s defense with three draw controls, two ground balls and two caused turnovers while helping to keep three of Virginia’s top scorers to just two goals apiece in the game. On March 13, Rachel Ramirez was tabbed CAA Defensive Player of the Week for the third time in her career after making 13 saves with three ground balls and two caused turnovers in the 12-9 win over Vanderbilt on March 8.

Two Phoenix earned preseason All-CAA honors on Jan. 20 with Stephanie Asher and Rachel Ramirez being named to the All-CAA team and Sloane Kessler and Alexis Zadjura earning honorable mentions. In the preseason poll, Elon was selected to finish third behind Towson and James Madison. The third-place selection is the highest Elon has been in a preseason poll in the program’s brief history.

The 2017 campaign marks the fourth season at the helm of the program for head coach Josh Hexter after being hired in April 2012 to start and lead the Phoenix lacrosse program from the ground up. Named Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year in 2014, Hexter has amassed 106 wins in his career at Elon and Bridgewater State with a 34-26 record in 60 games at Elon. Over the course of his first three seasons, he has coached two conference freshmen of the year and a total of 12 all-conference players.

Next weekend, Elon will hit the road for a season-long, two-game road swing at James Madison on Friday, April 7, and at Towson on Sunday, April 9. The Dukes are currently receiving votes in the Inside Lacrosse poll. Towson is No. 13 in the IWLCA Coaches poll and No. 14 in the Cascade poll.