In a game that came down to the wire between longtime opponents Duke and Old Dominion, a strong defensive effort and a late goal propelled the Blue Devils to victory.
A goal by junior forward Jessica Buttinger with 5:47 remaining was enough to give No. 9 Duke a 1-0 win against No. 15 Old Dominion Sunday at Jack Katz Stadium.
“I was really proud of our team... to just stay on task, and they kept their composure as the clock was winding down," Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. "I think they were able to come together and as a team keep the ball in our attacking end.”
Both teams had ample chances to score in the first half, but it was the Monarchs (1-5) who had the best chance to strike first. Old Dominion outshot Duke (5-1) 15-10 on the game, but several saves by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Blazing kept the contest scoreless heading into halftime.
Blazing and the defensive unit continued their strong performance in the second half, when Old Dominion tallied eight shots and seven penalty corners. Blazing recorded her second shutout of the season, making eight saves on the afternoon.
“It feels good because I think our team did a really good job with our defense. All of the shots were from a low angle or from the top of the circle, so they made it really simple for me to save it," Blazing said. "And we’ve been working in the last few games in kind of getting our organization and our structure set, and I thought we did a really good job with that.”
The Monarchs continued to put the pressure on the Blue Devils after halftime, forcing three penalty corners in the first seven minutes of play. After Bustin called a timeout in the second half, giving Duke the rest it needed, the team emerged and quickly forced two penalty corners.
"The pace of the game was really high and the ball was in our attacking end, so it was a good time to just give them a little break, get them some water and give them a breath to get their composure back, and it worked," Bustin said. "They went out there and they were more composed and more ready to finish the game.”
The Blue Devils were unable to convert on either of its corners, but a pass from the top of the circle by junior Abby Beltrani allowed Buttinger to slide a goal past Old Dominion goalkeeper Megan Hept in the game's closing minutes.
“It was one of those where we didn’t give up, and we knew that if we just kept going at it then eventually one would squeak away," Buttinger said.
After dropping its last three matchups with the Monarchs, another exciting finish gave Duke its third straight victory as the team looks toward two more home contests next weekend.
“When we play against them we both bring our A-games and it’s always a tough battle,” Buttinger said. “They’re an amazing opponent, so it feels really good to get this win.”