In an epic double-overtime battle between two top 10 teams, Syracuse scored a late goal in the 90th minute of play to break Duke’s five game win streak.
The No. 3 Orange handed the No. 7 Blue Devils their first ACC lost of the season in the first-ever meeting between the two teams, winning by a score of 2-1 at Jack Katz Stadium Friday night.
Both defenses held strong throughout the game, but Syracuse (11-1, 2-1 ACC) found the cage at a crucial time in double-overtime when junior forward Lauren Brooks’ shot was deflected into the goal by Duke redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Blazing.
“We’re very disappointed in the outcome. I think we had our chances to win tonight,” Duke head coach Pam Bustin said. “We’ve got to pay attention to those areas that could change the game in our favor. But at the same time, I couldn’t ask for more of a team effort. I couldn’t ask for more of the individual efforts at the time that they were called on. It was a great game and just an unfortunate outcome.”
The Blue Devils (10-3, 2-1 ACC) found themselves down 1-0 in the first half when the powerful Orange offense, which came into the game averaging 4.0 goals per game, scored with less than a minute to play in the first half. Syracuse freshman forward Karlee Farr was able to put in a rebound off of a Blazing save.
Although Duke had a number of good looks at the cage off of penalty corner shots, the Blue Devils were not able to knot the score until the 62nd minute, when they converted a penalty corner that resulted in sophomore Hannah Berraca’s second goal of the season. Senior forward Emmie Le Marchand and junior forward Abby Beltrani were credited with their seventh and eighth assists, respectively.
“We knew going into halftime we were down so I think we really stepped it up in the second half and had a lot of control,” senior defender Paula Heimbach said. “Going into halftime, I think we all know what we had to do.”
It seemed like Duke was going to take the lead when forward Jess Buttinger took a pass from graduate student Cherry Seaborn and shot on goal with 4:30 left to play, but her shot bounced off the post. The rest of the half remained scoreless and the Blue Devils entered their fourth overtime game of the season.
Both teams had opportunities to win the game in the first overtime, but the defenses managed to keep the ball out of the cage. Duke denied Syracuse a chance to win the game twice off of penalty corners as one shot was saved by Blazing, while another shot was blocked. Le Marchand also had a good look at the cage, but Orange goalkeeper Jess Jecko made the save.
“If you look at all the games, they’ve been tight and tough,” Bustin said. “This is how it is and this is what prepares you for what comes after. We’re playing the best hockey in the country right now.”
After a quiet five minutes into the second overtime, Syracuse finally found the cage to hand Duke its first overtime lost this season. Brooks took a shot from eight yards out that bounced off of Blazing and into the goal.
Even though Duke got off to a slow start, its play picked up in the second half and managed to register 15 shots and six penalty corners in the game. The Orange, however, would outshoot the Blue Devils 25-15, with 9 shots coming in the two overtime periods.
“Our penalty corners, we had our opportunities tonight and we’re getting there,” Bustin said. “I just think our overall rhythm has to be a little bit better and our awareness to finish.”
The Blue Devils have now tasted defeat in the ACC, a conference in which all seven teams are ranked in the top 25. Duke still has No. 1 Maryland, No. 5 Virginia and No. 6 Boston College.
“The ACC is always tough. Syracuse coming in made it even tougher,” Heimbach said. “This is a great game to learn from and something to move on, and maybe we’ll see them again and have another opportunity.”