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Field hockey knocked off late by Demon Deacons

The Demon Deacons exacted revenge on the Blue Devils Thursday night on the East Campus Turf Fields.

In a rematch of two teams that met on Monday night, the Blue Devils dominated throughout, but gave up two late goals and fell to Wake Forest 2-0.

Duke controlled play for most of the first half, outshooting Wake 13-5. However, the Blue Devils were unable to put the ball past Demon Deacon freshman goalie Meaghan Nitka. Nitka demonstrated great agility in guarding the cage, making seven first-half saves, and 12 overall.

"We dominated the first half, but we couldn't put the ball in the cage," Duke coach Liz Tchou said. "We allowed Wake to gain the momentum."

The loss drops Duke to .500 on the year with a 6-6 overall record. In the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Blue Devils fell to 2-3.

Duke's best scoring opportunity came with just under 12 minutes left in the first half, when a crowd in front of the cage rolled the ball between Nitka's legs. Wake Forest freshman Juli Lignelli ran in behind Nitka, however, and swept the ball out to the side before it could cross the goal line.

In the second half, Duke once again controlled the flow of the game, spending much of the half on its offensive end of the field. But two Wake Forest breakaways led to two goals for the Demon Deacons, and Duke was unable to counterattack.

The first Wake Forest goal came at the 15-minute mark in the second half. A Wake Forest breakaway resulted in a penalty corner. Deacon Susan Bowman centered the pass, and Amy Allen slapped the ball past Duke freshman goaltender Brooke Fuller.

"It's not like we did anything wrong," Fuller said. "They happened to get a breakaway, they happened to get a corner, and they happened to score."

The game was interrupted for 12 minutes with seven minutes to play when the lights at the East Campus field inexplicably went out.

The second goal came with just 31.5 seconds left in regulation. A flurry of activity at the top of the circle resulted in the ball rolling sideways, parallel to the net. Bowman tracked it down and flipped the ball towards the cage. It skipped between Fuller's pads and into the back of the cage, sealing the victory.

The win was Wake Forest's first in the ACC. They now have a 1-4 record in the conference, and the Demon Deacons' overall record improved to 6-7.

The loss hurt Duke, which was hoping to build momentum for the stretch run of the season. The Blue Devils have seven games left, but only three against ACC opponents, and the loss to Wake magnifies the importance of those games.

"We wanted it today," Tchou said. "[The team] really had a chance to win. They were persistent enough in the first half-we should have been up by a couple of goals."

In its last three games, Duke has mustered just two goals. Highlighting this slump is the fact that junior forward Melissa Panasci, who destroyed the single-season Duke record for goals just a year ago, has not scored in any of the three games.

"We're still getting better offensively," said Panasci, who still led Duke with seven shots. "We need to work on the basics. We're getting in the circle, and we're getting shots; they're just not the right shots."

Duke is off this weekend.

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