Two days, two ranked opponents, two losses.
No. 9 Duke (2-3) fell 3-2 to No. 13 Wake Forest (2-2) in double overtime on the road Saturday and lost 4-2 to No. 11 Northwestern (6-1) at home Sunday.
The Blue Devils headed into halftime with a 2-0 lead against the Demon Deacons, but gave it up in the second period when Jess McFayden registered back-to-back goals to tie the game.
After both teams went scoreless in the opening 30 minutes, Duke struck first in the 31st minute when senior Mary Nielson found the back of the net off of a dish from junior Emmie Le Marchand, who chased a loose ball and maneuvered through several Wake Forest defenders in a hustle play. With less than a minute remaining in the half, sophomore Jessica Buttinger scored off of a cross from classmate Abby Beltrani.
In overtime, the Blue Devils failed to convert on four corner opportunities. These missed chances proved costly when Wake Forest junior Kari Walkley scored the decisive goal with 3:50 left in double overtime.
“They executed two great corners that we were aware of, so maybe it was just us not executing our defense against what we knew was coming,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin said.
The following day, the Blue Devils returned home to face the Wildcats. This time, they had to adjust to playing without six of their players who are competing at the Pan-American Games in Mexico. Among them is the starting goalkeeper, sophomore Lauren Blazing. Junior goaltender Ashley Camano appeared in the first game of her career, finishing with zero saves on the day.
Junior Tara Puffenberger and senior Chelsea Armstrong led the Northwestern attack with a goal and an assist each. The Wildcats appeared poised for a shutout until the last 13 minutes, when Duke found its spark on both ends of the field. The two squads took seven shots and earned five penalty corners each.
“If you look at the statistics, it really was an even match,” Bustin said. “It was just a matter of the strength and the belief to finish on both ends of the field. I think we made some judgments early in the game, and I’m not sure what those judgments were but they got in the way of us just playing. In the last 13 minutes, we let go of those judgments and played, and we scored two goals.”
Neither team got on the scoreboard for the majority of the first half. In the 29th minute, Puffenberger scored off of an assist from Armstrong. With three seconds remaining in the half, senior Kaylee Pohlmeyer extended Northwestern’s lead to 2-0 off of a feed from Puffenberger.
It did not take long for the Wildcats to strike in the second half, with Armstrong scoring just 4:16 in.
“Chelsea Armstrong is an exceptional player, and she’s a leader on the field,” Bustin said. “I could hear her talking and demanding the ball, and she created the goal-scoring opportunities that they had. She’s definitely a difference-maker and a top-notch player.”
In the 54th minute, Northwestern freshman Lisa McCarthy notched an unassisted tally to put the Wildcats up 4-0. Duke finally answered in the 64th minute when Nielson scored on a rebound off of a penalty corner. Junior Devon Gagliardi followed that up with a goal 4:24 later to bring the Blue Devils within two goals, a difference that prove insurmountable.
“It was a matter of reminding them that we are good, that we are playing great field hockey, and that we need to stop making judgments—we just need to play, and that’s what we did in the last 13 minutes,” Bustin said.