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    Beverly’s Kelsey Duryea backstopping Duke lacrosse to success

    Kelsey Duryea is the starting goalie for the women’s lacrosse team at Duke University.
    George Jennison
    Kelsey Duryea is the starting goalie for the women’s lacrosse team at Duke University.

    Duryea’s drive started at home

    Will Duryea can still vividly recall the backyard lacrosse skirmishes that he and his younger sister, Kelsey , engaged in while growing up in Beverly.

    Kelsey, now the starting goalie on the 10th-ranked women’s team at Duke University as a sophomore, would stand in between the pipes.

    Her brother, now 23 years old and a 2012 Tufts University graduate who was a four-year player for the Jumbos, would fire shot after shot at her.

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    Even back then, Will knew his kid sister was a special talent.

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    “Nine times out of 10, it was her getting at me to get out there and shoot around on her,” said Will, an investment professional in Boston.

    “The level of competition we had” was high, he added. “Probably me getting frustrated being four years older than her, a young guy, a teenager, and not being able to score on my little sister; it was really frustrating. I would just keep cranking shots at her until one finally went in.”

    Despite more than a few sessions ending with her in tears, according to Kelsey, they are memories she treasures.

    “He definitely made me tougher,” said the 5-foot-8 goalkeeper. “Getting hit by a girl’s shot didn’t seem that bad compared to his. He always encouraged me.”

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    Nowadays support from Will – along with their parents Bill and Brenda Duryea – comes via pre- and post-game texts and phone calls, along with frequent trips to Durham.

    But she has done just fine on her own.

    After a four-year career at Governor’s Academy in Byfield in which she was twice honored as a New England all-star and all-Independent School League selection, Duryea entered the Duke program as one of the most highly recruited goalies for the class of 2012.

    She did not disappoint.

    In 16 starts as a freshman, Duryea ranked fourth nationally in save percentage (.507) and 10th in saves per game (9). She led the Atlantic Coast Conference in saves (144), saves per game, save percentage, and ground balls per game (2.13). She was named to the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-South Region second team and All-ACC squad.

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    “Kelsey is an extremely athletic keeper,” said 18-year Duke coach Kerstin Kimel in an e-mail.

    “Her reactions and instincts allow her to make plays for feeds around the cage and ground balls outside of the cage. She’s also able to use her size and reach to get cross-crease to play a ball off a feed extremely well.”

    Duryea also became the first freshman goalkeeper in program history to be named to the IWLCA All-America second team.

    “It was really fun to come in, be able to play and not really have any expectations,” she said about her freshman year before addressing the distinction.

    “Just to be among such great players at Duke and throughout the country was a really big honor. I definitely didn’t expect it.”

    Kimel said Duryea was “such a tough and consistent performer between the pipes and was absolutely key to our success in the 2013 season.”

    This season, with a younger defense in front of her, Kelsey has again been a stout backstop for the Blue Devils, now 9-7 after falling in the ACC quarterfinals to Virginia, 7-5. In 16 games, she has a .428 save percentage and averaged 7.19 saves per game.

    Still, her focus is on team accomplishments, including something her brother achieved at Tufts.

    “An ACC championship and definitely a national championship, hopefully this year,” she said. “My brother has been a great role model for me in that if I don’t feel like I’m having a great game or a great practice, I try to find other ways to impact the team.

    “At Tufts, he definitely wasn’t a leading scorer or an All-American but he played an influential role . . . they made it to the Division 3 national championship game twice and won it in 2010. That’s what I try to emulate. I’d like to be part of a team that gets there as well.”

    The NCAA tournament pairings will be announced Sunday.

    Local grads boost Northeastern record

    Five local pitchers, four of whom are St. John’s Prep grads, saw action in last weekend’s three-game series on the baseball diamond between Northeastern and the University of Notre Dame in Gary, Ind.

    Three Huskies pitchers – freshman Mike Driscoll of North Reading, senior Chris Carmain of Methuen, and freshman Dustin Hunt of Andover – were instrumental in helping Northeastern take two of three.

    Carmain picked up one win, while Hunt, who was named Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week on April 28, secured the other after pitching seven innings of shutout work, giving up seven hits and striking out eight in the Huskies' 4-0 win.

    Notre Dame freshman lefthander Scott Tully of Reading and junior righthander Pat Connaughton , a Prep graduate, also made appearances.

    Around and about

    Wheaton College senior Ashante Little earned Player of the Week honors in ECAC Division 3 women’s track and field. On April 20, the Seabrook, N.H. resident recorded the fastest times in the country in the 400-meter dash and 400-meter hurdles. . . .

    A pair of righthanders at St. Joseph’s of Maine – senior Joe Gruntkosky of Peabody and sophomore Corey McNamara of West Newbury – helped the Monks capture their fifth straight GNAC baseball championship. On April 27, the duo combined to allow five hits and three walks with eight strikeouts over nine frames in its 2-0 title-clinching victory over Suffolk University. . . .

    Duane Sigsbury is the new varsity football coach at Billerica High, replacing Rich McKenna. In three seasons at Cathedral, he was 31-6 overall, including a Division 4A Super Bowl win in 2012.

    Center Jack Eichel of North Chelmsford and defensemen Johnathan MacLeod of Dracut helped the US capture the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation men's U18 world championship in Finland. Eichel, who led the team with 86 points in 52 games, delivered an assist in the gold medal win over the Czech Republic, while MacLeod was solid defensively. Both are headed to Boston University in fall.

    Paul Lazdowski can be reached at pmlazdowski@gmail.com.