The Blue Devils put in two commanding defensive performances over the weekend in Boston to give the team an edge before closing the regular season against No. 1 Maryland next week.
Duke defeated No. 7 Boston College 2-1 in overtime Saturday at Newton Field Hockey Complex before traveling only a couple of miles away to take down Boston University 3-1 Sunday at New Balance Field.
“It’s really important to take it one day at a time, but what’s even more important is getting two wins on the road,” head coach Pam Bustin said. “It’s a big deal for us right now, especially with Boston College being in the conference as we head into the final game of the ACC.”
Duke’s defense proved to be the deciding factor of the game in each game, limiting Boston College (11-5, 1-4 in the ACC) and Boston University (10-5) to only 10 and 11 shots respectively.
Duke’s first half performance against Boston College was reminiscent of many other games this season in which the team struggled to finish and convert chances in the first frame. Duke (13-4, 3-2) struggled to score in the first half and much of the second, and was only able to turn the game around for the win in the final minute and a half of play. It was only in the final twenty seconds of regulation that senior Grace Christus was able to score for the Blue Devils, snatching the win away from the Eagles and forcing the game into overtime.
“Grace is one of our most consistent workhouses on the field,” Bustin said. “There’s no better person on the field than Grace to get that moment, because she works so hard everyday.”
Aileen Johnson completed the comeback for Duke, scoring a goal 53 seconds into overtime to give her team a 2-1 victory.
“It was evenly matched throughout the game,” Bustin said. “We had had our chances, but we just didn’t capitalize. Once we got the ball above the 50 on the attack, it gave us that boost and adrenaline to make us push forward on the offense. We were able to put pressure on the Boston College goalkeeper, and came away with the tying goal, which gave us the momentum going into overtime.”
Saturday’s game marked the fourth overtime game in as many weeks for the Blue Devils, and their fifth overall for the season. The team has a habit of strong performances late in the game and boasts a 4-1 record in overtime games.
“It proves that our strength of schedule is extremely strong—we’re playing some of the best teams in the country,” Bustin said. “It shows that our team is in it for the fight. They know that sometimes it takes 70 minutes, but if it takes a little longer we still have to finish it. This team is one of the best I’ve ever had to play it to the end and push through. They don’t give up.”
The Blue Devils had an easier time against Boston University the following day. The Terriers struggled to pressure Blue Devil goalkeeper Lauren Blazing and get shots off. Graduate student Cherry Seaborn knocked in a goal off a rebound to put the Blue Devils up 1-0 just six minutes into the game. Senior Emmie Le Marchand scored another two goals in the 15th and 55th minutes for the Blue Devils.
“We knew it was going to be another super competitive game, and Boston University’s a great team,” Bustin said. “For us to come off such an emotional win on Saturday, I was really proud of the Duke team to stay to their basics and stay to the game plan. Though it was a tight match, we really had great control of it for the full 70 minutes.”
Sunday’s game marked the last nonconference regular season game for the Blue Devils, who finished with a strong 9-2 record against non-ACC opponents.
“It’s a great confidence boost for us and makes us excited to get back home and play Maryland on senior night,” Bustin said. “The intensity of this week’s matches was a great prep for next week.”