Duke Loss Makes For Good Times

Ben Larrison

When top-ranked Northwestern walloped No. 4 Duke on Saturday, the Wildcats were writing just another glowing chapter in their growing rivalry with the Blue Devils. The two powers have now met four times over the past three years, and each has had major repercussions:

April 10, 2005: The No. 1 Cats down No. 2 Duke 16-11 in Evanston, announcing their legitimacy to the world. NU coach Kelly Amonte Hiller laughs methodically as Blue Devils coach and former Maryland teammate Kerstin Kimel stares at the field in a state of confused horror (this may or may not have actually happened). Just over a month later, NU captures its first national championship (this did actually happen).

April 7, 2006: Riding a 31-game winning streak into Durham, N.C., No. 1 NU is upset by No. 4 Duke 16-10. According to a rumor I just started, Kimel and team celebrate by sacrificing a baby deer to the lacrosse gods.

May 26, 2006: Seeking revenge for their April loss and a bogus No. 4 seed from the selection committee, the Cats take an overtime thriller 11-10 in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament. NU goes on to win its second straight crown with a victory over Dartmouth in the finals, and former Daily sports editor Zach Silka’s pride swells to dangerous proportions as he repeatedly screams “Take that, East Coast lacrosse establishment!”

n April 7, 2007: Aly Josephs plays all 12 positions, rescues cute, cuddly kitten from highest tree and defeats Duke 6-5 at the Thomas Athletic Complex. Other NU players contribute 11 additional goals, though they weren’t really all that important.

With all that recent history, it’s easy to forget just how huge Saturday’s victory was for NU. After slipping in their opener at North Carolina, a 9-8 loss in double overtime, the Cats have proceeded to obliterate all opposition. The domination of Duke served as a final confirmation of their readiness to reclaim the title of “Team to Beat” in this season’s NCAA tournament. The Cats are back, they’re for real, and best of all, they seem a little pissed off for having lost even a single game.

Plus, it just feels great to beat Duke. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love watching a little Blue Devil suffering? Just ask anyone from Virginia Commonwealth.

Few things are as guaranteed in the world of collegiate sports as the intangible hatred of Duke, so it is only natural that we should derive great joy from witnessing our school cause the Blue Devils’ demise. Well, Cats fans, we are now among the lucky few who can claim to have a legit rivalry with the Dukies, and better yet, we’ve taken the UConn basketball approach and actually won most of the games.

So indulge yourselves, NU rooters. Gloat to your Duke-backing friends about how nice it feels to cheer for a winner. Bask in the glory that is Cats lacrosse. Because nobody likes a bandwagon Blue Devils fan, but everyone loves a Duke basher.

It’s identifiable.