The weekend was filled with many firsts for Duke field hockey—two players scored their first goals of the season, and the Blue Devils shut out an opponent for the first time.
On their last road trip of the 2012 season, however, Duke has yet to achieve their first weekend sweep. And after only splitting their two games this weekend, it appears they never will.
The Blue Devils (6-9) began the weekend with a 1-0 victory over the James Madison Dukes (8-5) Friday on the road in Harrisonburg, Va. They then traveled south to Norfolk for their rematch against No. 8 Old Dominion (11-4) Sunday afternoon. The Lady Monarch’s beat Duke 3-2 earlier in the season and again Sunday.
The Blue Devils got on the board early in the 12th minute against the Dukes, when sophomore Martine Chichizola scored on a penalty corner, with assists from senior Chelsea Amsley and sophomore Abby Beltrani. This was Chichizola’s first goal of the season and Amsley’s fifth assist, which tied her for the team lead in assists with junior Emmie Le Marchand.
“The defense played especially well on Friday,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “It started with our front line and midfield line doing their work to keep the ball at our attacking end, so it was a great effort as a team. [Martine] stepped up and fulfilled her role so it was great, and I’m very happy for her.”
Although Duke outshot James Madison 18-4, Chichizola’s goal was enough offense to push the Blue Devils ahead for good. In addition, sophomore goalie Lauren Blazing notched her first shutout of the season.
“Lauren has been working really hard,” Bustin said. “She communicated with her defense very well, so we’re very happy with her shutout.”
Against Old Dominion, there was little action in the first half until the Lady Monarchs opened up the scoring in the 29th minute on a goal by redshirt sophomore Nicole Goff. The Blue Devils responded in the 43rd minute with freshman Amanda Kim’s first goal of the season.
Old Dominion, though, was quick to counter, as goals by freshman Sarah Breen and senior Maartje van Rijswijk gave the Lady Monarchs a 3-1 lead. In the 63rd minute, Le Marchand brought Duke to within one on her team-leading 10th goal. Despite many opportunities in the final minutes of the second half, the Blue Devils were unfortunately unable to score again, falling 3-2.
“We absolutely had opportunities throughout the entire match to win the game,” Bustin said. “We definitely had many in the last minutes of the game to tie it, but it just didn’t happen. But it was a great game against a good opponent and there’s a lot we can take away from it on the positive side.”
The Blue Devils and Lady Monarchs were evenly matched throughout the game. Old Dominion slightly outnumbered Duke in shots, 12-9, while Duke had the edge in penalty corners, 6-5, and saves, 5-3. The Blue Devils, however, were unable to convert when it mattered.
Despite its split weekend, Duke is still looking forward to the postseason. Bustin emphasized the importance of her team staying “positive” and doing what they have to do to reach the NCAA tournament.
“It’s going to be important that we take care of business over our final two regular season games,” said Bustin. “And as we go into the ACC Tournament, it’s our chance to break into postseason play, and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”