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Clemson lacrosse earns first ranked win in hard-fought game against Duke

Ashleigh Snyder // Contributor

Clemson goalie Emily Lamparter (29) and defender Paris Masaracchia (4) have emerged as a dynamic duo for the Tigers’ defense.

Clemson lacrosse has begun to establish itself as a veritable threat in the ACC after defeating No. 13 Duke 11-10 at Historic Riggs Field for the program’s first ranked victory last Saturday. 

Despite losing the first draw control of the game, the Tigers struck first against the Blue Devils. The offense maintained a consistently fast-paced tempo as they battled back and forth. 

Standout players included freshman attacker Sofia Chepenik, who tallied four goals. Her third goal tied up the game 10-10 with 3:30 left, and her fourth score placed the Tigers in the lead with 2:30 remaining. The Tigers ran out the clock for the rest of the game to seal the deal.  

“It feels amazing. I mean, this is what we all work for,” Chepenik said of the win. “Even though it was me behind the goals, it was a team effort, and we all played with guts. We put it all out there, and at the end of the day, it just shows what we can do. We’re here to make a statement and not go away.” 

The crowd energy was especially vital for Chepenik and the team.

“It was such a big crowd today, so feeding off their energy, it went into the bench, and that went onto the field,” Chepenik said. “The louder it gets, the more excited you get. Once you get that excited, we’re kind of unstoppable.” 

Clemson head coach Allison Kwolek was impressed with the team’s performance against a quality opponent. 

“Especially at the end, I told them they had to give everything they had to finish the game, and that’s what they did,” she said. 

“I think a team like Duke, with the best draw-taker in the country, I knew we weren’t going to come up with possessions right away, or that they would most likely come up with a possession and for our defense to make stats and give our offense more opportunities.” 

Kwolek was correct, as the defense was critical in the Tigers’ performance. Junior midfielder Nakeeya McCardell was a major piece of this puzzle as she consistently stuck to her targets like glue, making it difficult for Duke to enter the 8. 

Standout defender Paris Masaracchia played the whole 60 minutes up and down the field. As the only freshman starter on the team, Masaracchia has proven her grit in both the midfield and bottom third. She cycled draw control duties with midfielder Ella Little and attacker Hannah Hilcoff, as well as dominating crease protection for goalie Emily Lamparter. 

Lamparter continued her impressive sophomore campaign with 11 saves. Lamparter and Masaracchia appeared to be a dynamic defensive duo as Masaracchia guarded the crease, staving off advancing attackers to prime them in a shooting position for Lamparter to block. 

“She’s just someone that I trust so much,” Lamparter said of Masaracchia. “When an attacker is coming at her, I don’t think anybody is going to get by her. I trust her, and she trusts me. I would say we’re a dynamic duo.” 

Regarding free position shots, Clemson’s defense performed well in crashing on shooters. In one such shot in the third, after a shooting space violation, Clemson defenders forced a crease violation for Duke and returned possession to Lamparter for a clear.  

Offensively, Clemson displayed selflessness, a principle that Kwolek believes is foundational for the success of her program. All in all, Kwolek cycled through six scorers against a well-established Duke team, displaying the depth of the Tigers’ offense.  

“I think, you know, coming into this game, I knew if we had a team effort in this game, we were going to come out with a win,” Kwolek said.  

Clemson will be back in action on Thursday when it takes on Boston College at 4 p.m. EST at Riggs Field. 

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Grace O'Donnell, Sports Editor
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