After falling on the road to ACC foe Virginia, the Blue Devils returned home and salvaged the weekend, shutting out Stanford.
A comeback attempt fell short as No. 8 Duke fell to the No. 6 Cavaliers 4-3 Friday night at Turf Field in Charlottesville, Va. The Blue Devils suffered their second straight loss to an ACC opponent this season, putting them at .500 in conference play. Duke returned home and rebounded Sunday afternoon with a 2-0 victory against No. 13 Stanford at Jack Katz Stadium.
Virginia (15-3, 3-2 in the ACC) dominated play throughout the first half and took a 4-1 lead just after halftime. Senior forward Elly Buckley left her mark during her final home game as a Cavalier, scoring three goals in the contest.
“I think we were hoping for a different result on Friday night, and for whatever reason we put ourselves in a hole for the first 20 minutes of that game,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “It made us realize that we have to wake up a bit earlier.”
Finding themselves down by three goals after Buckley’s third goal in the 36th minute, the Blue Devils (11-4, 2-2) responded less than three minutes later when sophomore midfielder Aileen Johnson hit redshirt senior Devon Gagliardi with a pass, which Gagliardi converted into a goal.
Just five minutes later, the Duke attack managed to find the cage again. Senior forward Emmie Le Marchand slid the ball past Virginia goalkeeper Jenny Johnstone for her team-high ninth goal of the season to cut the deficit to one goal.
Despite Le Marchand’s goal in the 43rd minute, the Cavalier defense, which only allowed the Blue Devils to take six shots all game, locked down and prevented Duke from scoring the tying goal.
“We felt like we had really good offensive pressure, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the cage,” Le Marchand said. “We did not lose heart when we saw that number because we knew that we did have some chances.”
Duke notched its fourth shutout this season and only held the Cardinal (11-3) to 10 shots in the game. The Blue Devils added two late goals to win their ninth non-conference game of the season.
“We came out on fire and for the first 10 minutes [of today’s game] we were down on their end [of the field] and had our chances there,” Bustin said. “That was our focus coming from a tough loss on Friday to playing a ranked opponent [Sunday].”
After going scoreless for the first 58:42 of the match, Duke finally found the cage off a penalty corner. Two Blue Devil defenders took advantage of a rare opportunity to score. Sophomore defender Amanda Kim knocked the ball in for her first goal of the season. Fellow defender Brenna Rescigno was credited with the assist.
“What we have been focusing on is trying to start off quicker and overall, by the end of the first half, we were able to pick [our play] up,” Kim said. “The energy was a lot higher.”
Already leading 1-0, the Blue Devils would add to their lead with just 35 seconds left in regulation when junior forward Jessica Buttinger scored off a rebound.
The defense did its job on the other end of the field, denying Stanford the chance to get on the scoreboard. Duke also limited the Cardinal to merely four penalty corners on the afternoon.
Despite giving up a season-high four goals against Virginia, the Blue Devil defense reasserted itself on Sunday, showing it can shut down the attacks of ranked opponents.
“Our individual defense can be a bit better, but our overall defensive organization was better today,” Bustin said. “We stayed together as a unit so even if somebody was eliminated [due to a yellow or green card] there was a cover person there. That has been something we have been focusing on.”
With only two ACC games remaining, the Blue Devils are just around the corner from the postseason. Duke will return to ACC play Saturday when it travels to Boston College and looks to get its third conference win against the seventh-ranked Eagles.