The Blue Devils are back in Durham for the rest of the season, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
The No. 24 Blue Devils (6-9, 0-4 ACC) will face the California Golden Bears (5-7) in their second-to-last game of the season Friday at Jack Katz Stadium.
“We’re looking forward to returning home after a couple of weeks on the road,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “We’ve been playing some good hockey. Now we really just need to put it all together so we can get the result we want.”
The result Duke is looking for—postseason play—has a greater chance at coming to fruition now that they are playing on home turf.
The Blue Devils face the Golden Bears after splitting games against James Madison and Old Dominion last weekend. After beating James Madison 1-0 on sophomore forward Martine Chichizola’s first goal of the season, Duke fell to the Lady Monarchs 3-2 in a tight contest. Despite the split weekend and tough loss to Old Dominion, Bustin emphasized that the Blue Devils are ready to build on the “good hockey” they have been playing as of late.
“We’ve had some moments of great stuff,” Bustin said. “But we really need to lock down the things we’ve been working on in practice and bring [them] into the competition and into the match this weekend.”
The Golden Bears travel to Durham after splitting games against Pacific last weekend. In a 5-0 win Friday, freshman goalkeeper Joelle van Hoorn notched her fourth shutout of the season, while sophomore midfielder Lara Kruggel scored all five goals. California played Pacific again Sunday, falling 2-1 on Kruggel’s sixth goal of the weekend. Kruggel leads California with 15 goals on the season—11 more than any other Golden Bear—and was named last week’s NorPac West Offensive Player of the Week.
“California will be a great matchup,” Bustin said. “They have some newcomers on their team, and they’re starting to find their rhythm as well.”
Duke will counter with sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Blazing, who notched her first shutout of the season last Friday. In five games since returning from the Junior Pan-American Games, Blazing has only given up more than two goals once, when she gave up three against Old Dominion last Sunday. History appears to be on the Blue Devils’ side as well—Duke holds an 85-9-4 record against NorPac opponents, and has beaten the Golden Bears each of the three times the teams have faced each other in the past.
“We need to make sure we stay alert as a team,” Bustin said. “We need to be aware as to what we need to adjust and what we need to continue to do in order to secure the win. I really think this will be a great game and a great opportunity to earn a win at home this weekend.”