Junior Laura Weinberg clinched it for the Blue Devils once again, putting one home in overtime for a 3-2 win.
Coming off its second shutout loss this season, No. 7 Duke (9-3-1, 3-2-1 in ACC) regained control after an early disadvantage to take down No. 15 Virginia Tech (10-3-0, 2-3-0).
Weinberg, who has been on the rise this season with a career best of 13 goals, took the first shot of the game just two minutes in. The ball sailed high, and the Blue Devils only took three other shots—tying a season low with only four first half shots.
The Hokies, one of the top defensive teams in the country, took advantage of Duke’s offensive struggles, doubling the Blue Devils’ shot attempts with eight in the first half. With 13 minutes left before the break, Virginia Tech’s Ashley Meier caught a rebound off her first shot which connected with the crossbar, giving the Hokies 1-0 advantage.
“There were two points we really stressed going into halftime,” Duke head coach Robbie Church said. “We were not playing that badly, but we were shooting ourselves in the foot. We were turning the ball over, we were passing it to them—it wasn’t really what they were doing, it was more about what we were doing.”
After halftime, the Blue Devils came out with a surge of momentum, changing their midfield formation and taking 12 shots to the Hokies’ four. Church said this strategic change in play made the difference—Virginia Tech no longer had one more player than Duke in the midfield. The Blue Devils struggled with the Hokies’ ability to find the extra midfielder in the first half, spurring the change in formation. Weinberg came to the rescue in the 67th minute, taking a shot from the top of the box to tie up the score at 1-1. Only four minutes later, junior Kaitlyn Kerr headed a ball off of a cross from junior Mollie Pathman to notch her third goal of the season and give Duke a 2-1 lead.
But the Blue Devils could not hold onto their lead for long. After being unable to clear a corner in the 75th minute, Virginia Tech’s Kelsey Loupee tied the match at 2-2.
“We have been there before, we have been in this situation where it is do or die, so we came out with a really fierce mentality,” Weinberg said. “We have been talking about how this is such a crucial period in our season. Our goal for the weekend was to get six points, starting with tonight.”
Although the game was Duke’s fourth overtime this season, the Blue Devils did not lose the momentum they had built going into the second half of the game, not allowing the Hokies to take a single shot in extra time. Just under seven minutes in off a second shot attempt, Weinberg netted her second golden goal of the season off a cross from junior Kim DeCesare—her eighth goal in the last nine contests and her ninth career game-winning goal.
“It was a team effort,” Weinberg said. “We really fought hard for 90 minutes and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. But I am just so happy with the team right now, we played with so much heart tonight, and it was just an awesome win.”
Duke is currently in a stretch of the season that matters most. With three ACC opponents in the next four games, Duke needs to build momentum as the end of regular season play draws near.
“The league is vicious,” Church said. “But to get a win over a top team on the road at their place, and at that point in the season too—coming off of a heartbreaking loss from Virginia—it was huge. This was a really key game for us to come up here and get three points.”