Chrest hits ground running for Duke

Freshman from Maryvale is No. 3 Devils' top scorer

College Lacrosse

April 18, 2003|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

When Duke women's lacrosse coach Kerstin Kimel recruited Katie Chrest, she expected the Maryvale graduate to contribute right away, but not quite this much.

Chrest, The Sun's 2002 All-Metro Player of the Year, leads the No. 3 Blue Devils in scoring with 40 points and ranks sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 3.08 points per game.

Those numbers make her the front-runner for ACC Rookie of the Year honors, to be awarded at this weekend's ACC tournament in Charlottesville, Va.

In her first college game, the freshman attacker led the Blue Devils with three goals and two assists in a 16-2 win over Virginia Tech.

"She's still a college freshman," said Kimel, "and I didn't expect her to be able to make the transition with the ease that she did. She had a seamless transition from high school to college and it's very rare to find a college freshman who can do that."

Still, Kimel did see a few signs.

Last season at Maryvale, Chrest simply took over games in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference tournament.

She brought the Lions back from seeming defeat with two goals in the last 1:15 to beat St. Paul's, 10-9, in the semifinal. In the title game, she had a hand in nearly every point with four goals and three assists in the 9-6 win over Bryn Mawr.

"What struck me the most," said Kimel, "was that her speed, quickness, stick skills and understanding of the game were on a completely different level than the kids she was playing with and around."

Chrest's style of play fit perfectly into the Duke style, which relies a lot on speed and transition. The Hampstead resident didn't waste much time cracking the starting lineup, although she wasn't too sure for quite a while.

"Toward the end of preseason, I got the feeling just because of my teammates and their confidence in me. Their confidence really helps when you're a freshman and just trying to do what you can and learn the ropes," said Chrest, 19.

Maryvale coach Erin Stewart wasn't surprised.

"She's better than a lot of kids I coached as seniors at Loyola," said Stewart, an assistant at Loyola before moving to Maryvale.

"Katie's not like these other kids. She doesn't even know she's good. She just plays hard and she loves it. She's a very special player. She's a Mia Hamm. She's that leader as a freshman at Duke who went in wondering if she was going to start."

Not only has Chrest started every game for the Blue Devils, who have an ACC tournament meeting with No. 3 Virginia this afternoon at 3:30 after No. 1 Maryland takes on No. 14 North Carolina at 1 p.m. at Virginia's Klockner Stadium.

Chrest, who has significant statistics in ground balls, draw controls and caused turnovers, needs three more points to become the top freshman scorer in Duke history. Her 40 points rank just behind Annapolis graduate Kelly Dirks' 42. Eight more goals and five assists will put her atop those categories.

Not that there haven't been freshman mistakes. A couple of wild checks drew yellow cards and an early seat on the bench against Virginia on April 6. But she learns fast.

"When the coaches tell her one thing, she immediately puts it into use. Even if it's not perfect, the thought process is there and she puts in extra time to get it right," said Duke senior Kate Kaiser, an ACC Rookie of the Year and second-team All-American as a freshman.

Chrest has scored three game-winning goals, including the one in a 14-11 upset of then-No. 3 Georgetown.

Chrest scored a career-high four goals in that game, which came on the heels of a three-goal effort in an 8-4 win at defending national champ Princeton. That seven-goal week, in which she provided nearly a third of the Blue Devils' offense, earned her ACC Player of the Week and Inside Lacrosse national Player of the Week honors.

"She just is, as a freshman, a really mature player," said Maryland coach Cindy Timchal. "Usually freshman can do certain things, but she can do a little bit of everything. She's been the real deal this year for Duke."

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