Duke’s trip to the Garden State featured two very different contests against two very different opponents.
After failing to solve the defending national champions, the No. 10 Blue Devils struggled against an unranked team, but eventually were able to claw out a double-overtime.
No. 3 Princeton’s powerful offense was no match for Duke Friday, as the Tigers served the No.10 Blue Devils their first loss of the season in a 3-1 contest.
“It was a very even match, but they capitalized on their opportunities obviously better than we did,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “But we tried. We made adjustments on key things … and at the end we put on some good pressure, but we obviously need to get back and work on some things.”
Princeton got out to an early lead when senior forward Michelle Cesan converted on a corner in the 10th minute. Duke redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Blazing did not allow Princeton (2-0) to score for 40 minutes, but the Tigers increased their lead to two goals when traffic in front of the net allowed for freshman forward Hailey Reed to get past Blazing. The tally was first of Reeves' collegiate career.
But the Blue Devils (3-1) responded in the 62nd minute after converting a penalty corner. Senior defender Brenna Rescigno found an open Emmie Le Marchand on the far post, and cutting Princeton’s lead in half.
After taking out Blazing with five minutes remaining, however, Duke’s defense was unable to keep Princeton’s offense at bay. After deflecting the ball back towards their own net, the Blue Devils were outmaneuvered by Tiger midfielder Julia Reinprecht, who easily tapped the ball into the net to seal the game for Princeton.
“We got our opportunity with eight minutes left, and before then we had our opportunities too,” Bustin said. “We just didn’t capitalize on them, and that empty-net goal just gave them the lead in the end.”
Unlike the Tigers’ one-sided win, there was no clear-cut winner in Duke’s double-overtime contest against Rutgers (2-2) Sunday. The teams scored two goals apiece in less than seven minutes, with the Blue Devils opening up scoring with junior midfielder Abby Beltrani’s first goal of the season in the fifth minute. The Scarlet Knights answered less than two minutes later with an inside shot by freshman Ashpal Bhogal that snuck past Blazing.
Le Marchand continued her hot offensive play in the ninth minute, notching her team-leading fourth goal of the season by beating Rutgers goalkeeper Sarah Stuby off a rebound from her own shot. Le Marchand took a total of nine shots against the Scarlet Knights, adding to her team-leading 16 on the season.
“She keeps scoring goals and she keeps finding the cage,” Bustin said. “I think that’s coming off the fact that she’s been a very smart defensive force for us. She’s been playing defense very offensively and that’s definitely adding to her offensive game.”
But Rutgers was quick to respond, tying the game up again in the 12th minute. Scarlet Knight forward Katie Champion charged into Blazing, throwing the goalkeeper off and allowing Nicole Imbriaco’s shot to get past Blazing.
Both Blazing and Stuby held off the opposition for the rest of regulation and through a first 15-minute overtime. The Blue Devils took command of the offense in overtime, taking 11 shots, including three by Le Marchand. Their defensive unit, meanwhile, did not allow Rutgers to get close to the net, as the Scarlet Knights did not get any shots on goal. Stuby was able to stave off Duke's attack, making three saves.
But the Blue Devils’ offensive pressure finally came through in the 87th minute, clinching the victory off a breakaway goal from graduate student Cherry Seaborn.
“I’m really proud of how the kids persevered,” Bustin said. “They stayed in it and kept their heads in the game and kept attacking. It was a relief [when Cherry scored] because we knew it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when.”
Although Duke split its games in New Jersey, it returns to Durham having faced one of its toughest opponents yet, and having played in what will most likely be one of its longest games this season.
“We went through two really different mental tests this weekend with two different types of games,” Bustin said. “We were really exposed to a lot of different types of situations, and it really shows that this team sticks together. They want to find ways to win, and they’ll go until the end.”